soccer playerMind Matters

Understanding Concussions

Concussions result from a bump, blow or jolt to the head during sports, motor vehicle accidents, assaults, and even falls at home or on the playground. Nicole Meyer, 45, was cleaning her son’s room when she bent down quickly and hit the top of her head hard on a doorknob.

“I literally saw stars, but afterward I didn’t have a bump or any of the traditional concussion symptoms,” Meyer said.

However, several days later she felt foggy.

I felt like I was watching my life from outside my body, and I was emotional and could not stop crying, she said. After a visit to urgent care and a CT scan, Meyer was diagnosed with a mild concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury. While most concussions resolve within 48 hours, Meyer experienced post-concussion syndrome that left her unable to watch TV for weeks. It took four months before she was able to read and feel like her old self.


 I felt like I was watching my life from outside my body, and I was emotional and could not stop crying," said Nicole Meyer, who suffered a concussion.

Meyer’s story is not uncommon. An estimated 1.6-3.8 million concussions occur every year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. However, concussions are underdiagnosed and happen much more frequently than people realize, especially among young athletes, said Jeff Lobosky, M.D. In fact, a recent study found that among high-school students, 15% of youths said they had suffered at least one concussion over the prior year. Recognizing the signs of a concussion, as well as proper diagnosis and treatment are essential. Failing to do so can be deadly.

Concussion 101

A concussion occurs when the brain shifts inside the skull and results in temporary loss of brain function. Sometimes just moving your neck rapidly can cause one, said Lobosky, who specializes in neurosurgery. An injured person may or may not lose consciousness, and often experiences symptoms such as:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Double vision or ringing in the ears
  • Inappropriate crying or laughter

It’s critical that anyone who suffers a blow to the head gets pulled aside and assessed, especially if the person is not acting normal. If the person loses consciousness, or if a mild headache worsens or is associated with vomiting, that person should be taken to the emergency department right away, Lobosky said. Those who have mild symptoms can head home with a responsible adult, but loved ones should check in and awaken individuals periodically to make sure they’re OK.

Folks should not go back to their normal activities until they’re cleared medically. A second head injury — called second-impact syndrome — in a short period of time can cause lasting brain damage and even death, he said.

soccer player with dadThe Danger of Multiple Injuries

The fear of long-term brain damage was the reason Jodi Buda and her husband, Craig, decided to end their daughter’s promising soccer career. Brianna Buda had played competitive soccer since childhood and had just finished an injury-free first year of college in Illinois on an athletic scholarship. She had two concussions before college, and then last summer — while playing in a Chico league — she suffered a third at age 19.

Soon after, the student attended a California State University, Chico, soccer camp where a coach noticed her playing was “off.” When she learned Brianna Buda had recently suffered a concussion, she ordered her off the field to avoid further injury and allow her brain to heal. At that point, the young woman’s parents told their daughter the risk of future injuries was too great, and that she could no longer play soccer. The student transferred to an in-state college and has adjusted well. However, she does suffer from occasional headaches and light sensitivity, her mom said.

Enloe Clinic Provides A Resource

Because of the dangers concussions pose, states have guidelines for when athletes can return to sports after a concussion and some medical organization are also taking steps to protect the community. That includes Enloe Medical Center.

It opened a Concussion Clinic this month. The clinic takes a multidisciplinary approach for the best outcomes and patients may see:

  • Doctors and nurse practitioners who will ensure a proper diagnosis
  • Physical therapists who provide balance training and rehabilitation
  • Speech therapists who provide cognitive evaluations
  • And other caregivers

 Our goal is to serve as a resource for local schools, colleges, and emergency departments to properly evaluate and treat these patients to ensure that they are properly cleared before returning to work or play,” said Jeff Lobosky, M.D.

Our goal is to serve as a resource for local schools, colleges, and emergency departments to properly evaluate and treat these patients to ensure that they are properly cleared before returning to work or play,” said Lobosky, who will head up the clinic.

Caregivers will see patients who have experienced a traumatic brain injury four to six weeks prior and have persisting symptoms by appointment. They’ll provide education, treatment plans and referrals for follow-up care as needed.

“We’re looking forward to being able to help folks return to their full potential and to help the community fight this silent epidemic,” he said.

VIEW VIDEOS

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    Drs. Voelker and Lobosky honored with 2014 Physician Legacy Award

  • video-img

    Drs. Voelker and Lobosky honored with 2014 Physician Legacy Award

  • video-img

    Drs. Voelker and Lobosky honored with 2014 Physician Legacy Award

  • video-img

    Drs. Voelker and Lobosky honored with 2014 Physician Legacy Award

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