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Concussions, and how to spot them

posted by Draft Day Suit
Monday, February 7, 2011 at 5:28pm EST

A (usually) humorous look at sports written by popular parent bloggers and some of their friends.

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It seems we’ve been hearing a lot more about concussions in recent years, particularly with regard to football and hockey. There was Merril Hoge’s career-ending head injury after a concussion that ultimately resulted in a $1.55 million judgment against the doctor who cleared him to play, and players like Aikman and Young retiring earlier than expected at least in part because of concussions.  In the NHL, it’s questionable what the most notable outcome of January’s Winter Classic was: the Washington Capitals’ win over the home team or the Pens’ star forward Sidney Crosby’s eventual absence from the ice after a series of what some said were intentional hits to the head.

An almost-fanatical attention to head-hitting rules seemed to pervade this season in the NFL, so it’s clearly being taken seriously there, and players are regularly suspended in the NHL for so-called “dirty hits,” some of which can surely cause obvious or more insidious injury to the head. Not to mention? These can be contact sports. Things happen, intentional or not, and players hit the ground and equipment too.

A couple of new developments suggest the science of detecting concussions is getting better.

Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of medicine have developed a test that can be given quickly to players on the sideline who have just suffered a blow to the head. The test, which any coach or parent can be trained to administer, is remarkably accurate at detecting concussions, according to the study, which is published in the current issue of the journal Neurology.

A test like this is potentially big news- something cheap, accurate, and easy to administer immediately following a potential head injury would be a huge step forward, and could prevent a lot of really scary and dangerous re-injuries that occur when athletes insist they’re ready to go back in and trainers/doctors don’t have anything concrete with which to stop them.

In other concussion news, researchers at Ohio State have recently released a study, published in the Journal of Athletic Training, that examined high school athletes who have experienced head trauma.  The study suggests that the symptoms of head injuries and concussions manifest differently in girls than boys. As more and more girls are playing sports, including contact sports (yay!) it’s essential that their coaches, trainers, and parents realize that the symptoms they report of a concussion are different than what one might “expect” given the conventional wisdom, which has almost always analyzed boys and men.

For example, the study says that while the primary symptom of concussion for both boys and girls is headaches, the secondary symptoms differ quite noticeably.  Boys are more likely to report feeling disoriented or confused, or to have memory loss, while girls are more likely to report feeling sensitive to noise and sound, as well as being drowsy.  Couple that with previous studies that suggest that girls suffer concussions at higher rates than boys, and this is key information for anyone involved in girls and women’s sports.

Interesting stuff.  Don’t lead with your head, kids.

Image Credit: wakemedvoices.org

Katie is lucky to have never received a concussion while playing sports. Unless sledding counts as a sport, in which case she totally has.

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There is 1 comment on this post. Join the discussion!

MfitzgeraldWPS says:

Great article. This will be a topic of discussion within the WPS family as well in the very near future!

Monday, February 7, 2011 at 7:02pm EST

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