CTE stands for Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy, a type of dementia that can result from multiple concussions or lighter hits to the head over time. In the recent $765 Million NFL Payout for CTE Dementia, this type of dementia made front page headlines. It became a matter of concern for millions of people engaged in concussion-prone activities as obvious as football or boxing, to ones as subtle as biking and soccer, all which carry the risk of multiple hits to the head over the course of a lifetime.
Across America, according to latest reports, nearly 300,000 high school athletes sustain concussions each year. Properly identifying, evaluating, and treating those student athletes is critical to returning them to the game safely.
Darren S. Lovick, M.D., Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute surgical director and neurosurgeon, recommends a graduated stepwise approach to getting an injured athlete safely back on the field.
"Over the years we have gradually witnessed an increase in the number of concussions among high school athletes," said Lovick. "It is critical to not only quickly identify and evaluate the severity of the brain injury but to also use caution when determining when that athlete is ready to get back in the game."
A concussion is a traumatic injury to the brain typically caused by a blow to the head. Symptoms can include headache, vomiting, blurred vision, brain fog, fatigue, mental confusion, difficulty sleeping, and in the most serious instances, loss of consciousness.
Concussions can range from mild, moderate, and severe and can be evaluated through a variety of tools including a neurological exam, a head CT, or an MRI.
Once a patient has been evaluated and treated and is asymptomatic, Lovick advocates a graduated stepwise return to play.
Steps to Concussion Management
- No activity
- Aerobic activity – walking/jogging/running
- "No Contact" sport specific drills
- "Light Contact" sport specific drills
- "Full Contact" practice
- Return to play
"Obviously the safety and well-being of the student is everyone's top priority," said Lovick. "Educating parents, coaches, and the athletes themselves, so the player only returns to play once he or she is physically ready, is essential."
A concussion is traumatic brain injury that changes the way your brain functions. When the skull is jolted or impacted by a hard surface, the brain shifts, slamming against the skull, causing damage and swelling to the brain. If treated correctly, brain will heal. But if not, results can be deadly.
For more information about proper concussion evaluation and treatment visit the Center's for Disease Control and Prevention "Heads Up" website at http://www.cdc.gov/concussion/HeadsUp/youth.html. Additional information about Dr. Lovick can be found at http://www.saintlukeshealthsystem.org/doctor/darren-s-lovick-md.
About the Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute
Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute, a member of Saint Luke's Health System, is a global leader in utilizing both drug and mechanical interventions to block and reverse the permanent and debilitating effects of ischemic strokes. Its legacy of innovation began in 1993 when doctors performed one of the world's first intra-arterial stroke reversal procedures. Since then, Saint Luke's specialists have continued to pioneer new stroke treatments and reverse stroke's debilitating effects for thousands of patients, and is one of the world's most experienced and prolific leaders in the use of Tissue Plasminogen Activator (t-PA) clot-busting medication for treatment of ischemic stroke. SLNI, headquartered in Kansas City, Missouri, brings together a team of the country's most accomplished neurologists to provide a comprehensive treatment center for the most complex neurological issues, such as stroke, epilepsy, brain tumors, facial pain, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's, headaches, aneurysms, and the latest in minimally invasive spinal surgical techniques. SLNI's advancements in neurology have made it a national leader in neurological treatment and care.
SOURCE Saint Luke's Neuroscience Institute