If a concussion is suspected, early management and appropriate referral to a clinician is very important. There are an estimated 1.7 million brain injuries each year in the United States. The majority of brain injuries that occur each year are diagnosed as Mild Traumatic Brain Injuries (MTBI), usually concussions from sporting events. While MTBIs are usually not life threatening, this injury can have serious and long-term effects on a person’s cognitive, physical and psychological functions. That is why it is crucial for patients with a suspected MTBI to receive appropriate diagnosis and treatment in order to receive optimal recovery and to reduce or avoid significant adverse health outcomes.
The golden rule of sport MTBIs is that the player should not be allowed to return to sport until they have completely recovered. By seeking proper care the following scenarios will be avoided:
• Another injury to the head or body being caused by the incompletely recovered athlete being clumsy or slow.
• Injury to another player for the same reason.
• Post-Concussion Syndrome – symptoms such as dizziness, fatigue and problems with concentration and memory, which can persist for weeks, months or even years after a concussion.
• Second-Impact Syndrome – catastrophic condition where a person who hasn’t fully recovered from a concussion sustains another minor head injury, leading to massive and often fatal swelling of the brain.
To assist in the assessment, ImPACT testing software is used as an additional tool in the concussion management program. ImPACT is a 20-minute test that has become a standard tool used in the comprehensive clinical management of concussions for people of all ages. This tool can help to objectively evaluate the concussed athlete’s post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play.
It is recommended that all athletes in a high impact sport complete a baseline test that can then be used to compare post-injury test results to if the athlete experiences a concussion. More exact testing results are accomplished when there has been a baseline test performed, but if there is no baseline test completed, the physician will use ImPACT Normative Database to help interpret the test results. Below is a list of all the high impact sports that the participating athletes are recommended to get a baseline ImPACT test:
If a concussion is suspected, proper follow-up care needs to be established within 72 hours after injury. FBN
Flagstaff Bone and Joint, home of the Concussion Management Program and ImPACT testing. 77 W. Forest Ave., Ste. 301 Flagstaff, AZ 86001 928-773-2280.
Dr. O’Donnell is a board certified sports medicine physician who specializes in non-surgical orthopaedic treatment options. He specializes in concussion management care and ultrasound guided procedures including joint and soft tissue injections, PRP and Prolotherapy.
By Kevin O’Donnell, DO