What is a concussion?

“A concussion is any kind of brain injury related to a blow to the head and interferes with the way the brain works.”, Melissa Duff, PhD University of Iowa. There are physical symptoms, emotional symptoms, and thinking issues that can be part of post concussion behaviors and feelings.

There are more than 300,000 sports related injuries – brain injuries per year (most classified as concussion). We at Philly Speech Therapy are trying to individualize the decision making process with the assistance of speech pathology, audiology. Neurology, and psychology services working as a team to test and evaluate the readiness for return to sports, school, and work. With this team approach the individual will have optimum care in the present and future. Anything that effects the brain is within the domain of our services be it Auditory Processing testing, Cognitive evaluations (verbal reasoning/executive functioning). We welcome the challenge and the opportunity.

One of the biggest issues in the news today is Concussion Syndrome.

I have been a speech pathologist for 46 years. As I study more about concussion syndrome I think about my 2 big car accidents and my sports related injuries as a young adult. I remember playing basketball at University of Pittsburgh and going up for a rebound. A girl about 6 inches taller than me went up at the same time and elbowed me in the face. I remember hitting the ground and seeing “stars”. The coach asked if I was ok. All I remember saying is there was a dark background and gold-like stars were lighting up when my eyes were closed. So if it were today, I would have had an Impact completed, and probably been taken to the ER for a possible concussion. There are many of us walking around today who have not had the care they needed regarding concussions.

The good piece to take away is there are many steps to take that improve the post-concussion scenario that did not exist even 10 years ago. Now we have agencies like SafeSoccerKids.org that provide parents of youth soccer players the safety tips regarding “headers”. Specifically, the issues related to young girls in soccer. Headers are particularly dangerous for young girls due to the musculature in the neck which is different from young boys. Women have a higher incidence of concussion in soccer due to anatomy and the continuation of headers at too young an age. There is a movement through the Concussion Legacy Foundation’s Safer Soccer campaign that is trying to delay headers until high school specifically for girls. For specifics go to Concussionfoundation.org. The CDC has great information related to concussions for parents at their website, it is called Heads Up.

I started studying the effects of concussion on children in sports about 4 years ago. It became important to me due to my past history as well as due to clients that have come to my office with a variety of language and learning issues. Parents have occasionally called and said their child has had a concussion in hockey or soccer or baseball “what should I do?”. This occurs usually after seeing the neurologist or after a visit to the Emergency Room. Protocols have changed over the years. The dark room with little stimulation is not the “go to” advice any more.

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“A powerful new imaging technique called High Definition Fiber Tracking (HDFT) will allow doctors to clearly see for the first time neural connections broken by traumatic brain injury…”

Photo Credit: Walt Schneider Laboratory

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