Sports Head Injuries Take Many Forms, But All Could Prove Devastating, by Dr. Arthur Day

October 26, 2011 Comments Off on Sports Head Injuries Take Many Forms, But All Could Prove Devastating, by Dr. Arthur Day

Dr. Arthur Day, neurosurgeon and professor, discusses the devastation that even a seemingly minor sports-related head injury can cause.

As competition in all sports continues to get tougher, coaches and parents need to be especially vigilant about the possibility of head injuries. In some cases, athletes who have suffered traumatic brain injuries exhibit minimal or even no outward symptoms. However, in the worst cases, these incidents result in severe impairment and even death.

While some people dismiss concussion as a minor event, the fact remains that concussions shake the brain and damage neurons and nerve fibers. Many coaches, trainers, and physicians perform a Standardized Assessment of Concussion on athletes who have experienced a blow to the head or a jolting accident. This five-minute series of exercises and questions offers a quick evaluation of a player’s status, but does not always prove effective at discerning subtle physical or mental alterations that could indicate the presence of an acute injury. Even if the athlete remained conscious, he or she may be unable to describe or even recognize memory loss or lack of concentration. The coaches and the athlete often write off other symptoms, such as a persistent headache or dizziness, because of the initial fall or hit or because of heat.

Concussions sometimes lead to a swelling in the brain called second impact syndrome. This condition, which can be fatal, results from a second concussion that occurs before an athlete has completely recovered from a prior concussion. Vascular congestion of the brain and intracranial pressure compress the brain and may even cause it to seep through minute holes in the skull. Second impact syndrome often follows a blow or hit by several minutes; players may suddenly collapse even after appearing to be perfectly fine just moments earlier.

About the author: With more than 40 years of experience, Dr. Arthur Day trains neurosurgeons in his capacity as the Vice Chair of Clinical Education in Neurosurgery at the University of Texas Medical School at Houston. He specializes in minimally invasive spine surgery, microsurgery techniques to treat brain tumors and vascular lesions of the brain and spinal cord, and diagnosis and surgical treatment for neurological sports injuries.

Copyright 2011 – Dr Arthur Day Neurosurgeon

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