CONCUSSIONS AND WHAT YOU MAY NOT KNOW
There are over 1 million concussions in the United States every year, and each one is different. Most concussions resolve within 2 to 4 weeks; however, if they are not properly managed, a concussion can persist for much longer. Approximately half of individuals with a single mTBI (mild concussion) demonstrate long-term cognitive impairment and while most individuals are unaware of the potential risks, properly managing concussions from the beginning can prevent future persistent post concussion syndrome.
At Carolina Neuroservices, we are experts at helping both children and adults manage physical and mental activity to prevent concussions from persisting. We utilize comprehensive neuropsychological testing to help provide appropriate treatment plans for persistent concussions. We also provide cognitive rehabilitation to improve attention, processing speed, and working memory functioning in concussed patients. We further provide psychosocial support in individual and group therapies for patients who have trouble with adjustment issues. Most recently, we are playing a central role in the evaluation of the drug streptolysin-O, which has promised to help reduce scarring and inflammation following a head injury. As the official team psychologist of the Charlotte Checkers, Dr. Ewert is familiar with the most up to date protocols for return to play after concussion.
What is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury or Concussion?
A mTBI or concussion occurs when the head is struck or moved rapidly, resulting in a possible loss of consciousness. The trauma may involve a fall, blow to the head, or most commonly the head striking a stationary object, as might occur in a motor vehicle accident. Additionally, mTBI may arise following a severe whiplash injury; even when the head is not struck, but the whiplash involves some rotation of the head.
Patients who experience mTBI or concussion may be hospitalized for a brief period of time (usually a few days, but often not at all) and then discharged home. Concussions or mTBIs can produce a wide range of physical, cognitive (thinking), and behavioral/emotional problems. Although physical problems may be prominent initially, cognitive, behavioral, and emotional impairments have the greatest impact on long-term outcomes.
The Importance of Seeking Treatment from a Neuropsychologist after a Concussion or mTBI
The most effective intervention for mTBI or concussion is early education and information for patients and their families. It is best to begin this education promptly after discharge by seeking follow up care from a neuropsychologist.
In a significant number of mTBIs or concussion cases, a patient’s return to prior levels of functioning is incomplete, and the extent of their disability can be quite severe. This is particularly true if the patient’s work requires proficiency in speed, complex attention, learning, memory, and complex thinking, as these abilities are most often impaired after mTBI. Patients followed by a neuropsychologist will be treated for problems in thinking and emotional difficulties, and receive guidance with practical decisions regarding their care and capacity to function independently at work or school.
What are the Signs/Symptoms to Look For?
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Dizziness or “seeing stars”
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Ringing in the ears
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Sensitivity to noise/light
- Impaired sleep
- Cognitive problems at school/work
- Reduced Processing
- Slurred speech
- Delayed response to questions
- Appearing dazed