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Concussions and Student Athletes Part I

Dr. Shannon Woods, medical director of CoxHealth Sports Medicine, sees around 10 to 15 cases of concussion each week in his clinic, and many of them are young athletes. 

According to Woods, a concussion is a physiologic phenomenon where there’s jarring of the brain that disrupts the electrical circuitry inside the brain.  He says everything slows down as a result because the electrical circuitry doesn’t fire as fast or as sharp as it usually does.  That contributes to feelings of fogginess, confusion, amnesia and sometimes loss of consciousness.  Other symptoms are changes in vision or personality changes including depression, anxiety and irritability.

He says around 80% of those who suffer concussions will see symptoms resolve within about a week.  But for others, the symptoms will last longer…

"I have seen people in clinic who have had concussion symptoms for up to six months sometimes.  These generally are individuals who have received mulitple concussions or have had a past history of multiple concussions.  They're much more likely to have longer lasting concussions and more severe symptoms with each successive concussion that occurs."

Most people think concussions are caused by a blow to the head, and they are, but they also can be caused by any jarring motion to the body that will cause the brain to move forward or accelerate and decelerate rapidly…

"So somebody just taking a hit into the abdomen without hitting their head or being jarred and falling down onto their bottom or onto their back can have enough impact to still cause a concussion."

According to Woods, concussions are simple to treat—there’s no elaborate medical scheme involved.  It’s all about time.  He says parents need to realize it’s a serious situation that has potential devastating consequences…

"Such as second impact syndrome which is where there's brain swelling after two concussions or more in a row without allowing the first concussion to be completely healed--that can cause death.  Also, post concussive syndrome where symptoms last up to six months can be pretty devastating to a young person or  or even an older individual's life."

In part two of our series on concussions, find out what the Springfield Public School’s guidelines are regarding concussions and how they’re managed. 

For KSMU News, I’m Michele Skalicky.