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Concussions: What you don’t know can be dangerous

True or false:

  • If your child does not lose consciousness, then he/she doesn’t have a concussion
  • You need a brain imaging test to diagnose a concussion
  • ImPACT Neurocognitive testing is used to diagnose a concussion
  • Your child has had a concussion before, so you know the drill. No need to see a healthcare professional

The answers to all of the above are false.

David Buck, MD, a physician who specializes in sports medicine for Kettering Health Network, and Robin Lensch, an athletic trainer with KHN, help to clear up common misconceptions about concussions.

FACT: Concussions can occur even when a child does not lose consciousness. Only 10-20 percent of children with diagnosed concussions report being “knocked out.” It’s not always easy to tell if someone has sustained a concussion, which is why it is better to err on the side of caution and seek medical attention if there is any concern at all.

 “If a concussion is suspected during an athletic activity, the injured athlete should be removed from play immediately and referred to a qualified healthcare provider for additional evaluation and management,” said Lensch. “Likewise, if a concussion is suspected after an athletic activity, the athlete should not be allowed to return to play until evaluated and cleared by a qualified healthcare provider.”

 Another common myth is that concussions are ONLY sustained from a direct blow to the head. In actuality, concussions can result from a jarring to the head or the body from things like falls, car accidents, and playground injuries.

FACT: A concussion cannot be seen on a CT scan or MRI. “Concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that affects brain function, not brain structure, and can be extremely serious, even deadly in some circumstances,” said Dr. Buck.

Your brain is a soft organ, surrounded by spinal fluid and protected by your hard skull. Normally, the fluid around your brain acts like a cushion that keeps your brain from banging into your skull. But if your head or your body is hit hard, your brain can crash into your skull, resulting in a concussion.

FACT: ImPACT™ testing is not a tool for diagnosing concussions. If you are the parents of a child in a contact sport, you’ve undoubtedly received information from the school regarding ImPACT testing.

ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is a widely used, computerized concussion management tool that may assist sports medicine physicians and other qualified healthcare providers in the evaluation and management of a suspected concussion. Both preseason baseline testing and post-injury testing are available to recreational or competitive athletes, ages 10 and older. The test takes about 35 minutes to complete.

“ImPACT measures attention span and time, memory, reaction time and non-verbal problem solving. It also records the severity of 22 concussion symptoms,” explained Dr. Buck. “ImPACT testing can be used as one part of a comprehensive concussion management program to assess and compare an athlete’s pre-injury and post-injury cognitive function, which can lead to better management of concussion by the healthcare team.”

Lensch added that ImPACT testing can be used by healthcare providers and physicians to assess concussion severity, develop an effective concussion treatment plan, follow a person’s recovery, and can assist in determining when to allow the injured person to return back to activity.

FACT: Always seek medical attention because no two concussions are the same. No two concussions are identical. Symptoms can be different based on factors such as the degree of force and location of impact, previous concussions, pre-existing risk factors, and length of time between injuries.

“All concussions should be taken very seriously by parents, athletes, and coaches,” said Dr. Buck.

While there is no way to completely guard against head injuries, access to the Kettering Health Network team of specialists and services can be the best defense in minimizing the effects associated with concussions.

Kettering Health Network sports injury clinics provide quality care for active individuals. Whether you are a weekend warrior, youth player, professional athlete, or anything in between, your health and wellness are our top priority. In addition to concussion management, our experts treat sports-related injuries, and offer pre-participation sports physicals.

Sports injury clinics are available in Beavercreek, Dayton, Kettering and Hamilton. For appointments at a specific location, call:

  • Soin Medical Center – (937) 702-4960
  • Dayton Sports Medicine Institute – (937) 401-6400
  • Kettering Sports Medicine – (937) 395-3920
  • Fort Hamilton Sports Medicine – (513) 867-4165