How to manage concussions (w/ Video)

July 22, 2013, Canadian Medical Association Journal

Concussions, the most common traumatic brain injury, can have serious long-term health effects; therefore, diagnosis and management of these injuries are important. A primer published in CMAJ (Canadian Medical Association Journal) provides physicians with current approaches to diagnosing and managing concussions in patients.

"The importance of accurate and timely recognition and management stems from the consequences of misdiagnosis or faulty management that can lead to major disability or death, in both the short and long term," writes Dr. Charles Tator, Division of Neurosurgery, University of Toronto and Krembil Neuroscience Centre, Toronto Western Hospital.

People in all age groups are susceptible to concussions because they can occur from , work activities, sports, recreation and, for seniors, falls. Concussions can be caused without direct blows to the head, such as impact to the chest that causes and a jiggling of the brain. The brains of young people are more susceptible to concussions than those of adults. Recent evidence shows that females may be more prone to concussions than males.

Athletes in particular are at risk and may minimize or hide symptoms of concussions which can have serious effects. Second-, although rare, can happen when a concussed person, especially a younger person, has a second injury before the first has healed. This second injury can lead to brain swelling, resulting in major or death.

Physicians play a key role in diagnosing and managing concussions. "The diagnosis can be made only clinically because there is no proven based on imaging, blood tests or computerized neuropsychological screening tool," writes the author.

The practice in most countries is to remove the concussed person from activity and begin an evaluation by a physician as soon as possible. Complete rest from physical and mental activity is recommended. The primer includes a 6-point protocol to managing concussions that includes a plan to help people resume activity:

  • No activity: complete rest
  • Light exercise: walking, swimming, stationary cycling
  • Sport-specific exercise but no head-impact sports
  • More vigorous but noncontact training drills
  • Full-contact practice: normal activities after medical clearance
  • Return to full game play including contact

"Educating the public about concussion is an important component of primary, secondary and tertiary prevention," concludes Dr. Tator. "Everyone who is engaged in sports should be aware of the importance of recognizing concussion. However…the responsibility for diagnosing concussion rests with the physician, or a trained delegate in remote regions."

Explore further: Bodychecking rules don't reduce concussions in elite hockey

More information: DOI: 10.1503/cmaj.120039

Related Stories

Bodychecking rules don't reduce concussions in elite hockey

July 17, 2013
Recent changes in hockey rules regulating contact to the head have not reduced the number of concussions suffered by players during National Hockey League (NHL) season, according to research published July 17 in the open ...

AMSSM issues position statement on sport-related concussions

January 7, 2013
Athletes with concussions must be held out of practice or play until all symptoms have resolved, to avoid the risk of further injury during the vulnerable period before the brain has recovered. That's among the key recommendations ...

Concussions can happen in all kids, not just athletes

September 6, 2012
(Medical Xpress)—The gridiron is back in action. From little leagues to professional teams, football frenzy has begun, and with it, concerns about concussions. But it's not just jarring tackles that can lead to concussions ...

Teen drinkers, pot smokers at raised risk of concussion, study says

June 25, 2013
(HealthDay)—Concussions appear to be a common injury for teenagers, with the risk higher not only for athletes but also for kids who drink or smoke marijuana, new research indicates.

Study raises concerns that teen athletes continue to play with concussion symptoms

May 6, 2013
Despite knowing the risk of serious injury from playing football with a concussion, half of high school football players would continue to play if they had a headache stemming from an injury sustained on the field.

Evidence shows concussions require long-term follow-up for players

February 17, 2013
As the National Football League braces for lawsuits by 4000 former players alleging the league failed to protect them from the long-term consequences of concussions, game-changing research by a leading Canadian researcher ...

Recommended for you

Number of older people with four or more diseases will double by 2035, say researchers

January 23, 2018
A study published today in Age and Ageing, the scientific journal of the British Geriatrics Society, reports that the number of older people diagnosed with four or more diseases will double between 2015 and 2035. A third ...

Placental accumulation of flame retardant chemical alters serotonin production in rats

January 22, 2018
A North Carolina State University-led research team has shown a connection between exposure to a widely used flame retardant chemical mixture and disruption of normal placental function in rats, leading to altered production ...

Marijuana use does not lower chances of getting pregnant

January 22, 2018
Marijuana use—by either men or women—does not appear to lower a couple's chances of getting pregnant, according to a new study led by Boston University School of Public Health (BUSPH) researchers.

Women run faster after taking newly developed supplement, study finds

January 19, 2018
A new study found that women who took a specially prepared blend of minerals and nutrients for a month saw their 3-mile run times drop by almost a minute.

Americans are getting more sleep

January 19, 2018
Although more than one in three Americans still don't get enough sleep, a new analysis shows first signs of success in the fight for more shut eye. According to data from 181,335 respondents aged 15 and older who participated ...

Wine is good for you—to a point

January 18, 2018
The Mediterranean diet has become synonymous with healthy eating, but there's one thing in it that stands out: It's cool to drink wine.

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.