Concussions: A Cautionary Tale

I have a task for you. Open up your favorite search engine (Google, Bing, Ask Jeeves, you choose), and search for the phrase “Neurological Diseases”. What do you come up with? You’re probably seeing things like traumatic brain injuries, spina bifida, Parkinson’s, and so on. But did you know that there are more than 600 neurological diseases? I sure didn’t. Picture1

One of my best friends has had eight concussions. Eight. She played competitive lacrosse in high school, where she experienced her first three concussions. Her next two were from two different car accidents. The last three have been caused by near-normal activities. And that’s the scary thing about concussions – the more you have, the easier it is to get another one.

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A player on my high school soccer team had a concussion that went undiagnosed for weeks. Her parents kept pushing for a diagnosis after they noticed mood swings and serious changes in their daughter’s behavior. She was eventually diagnosed with a concussion and the recovery process began.

There are many adverse effects of concussions: mood swings, changes in personality and behavior, trouble sleeping, and inability to focus. So how do we prevent concussions before they happen? Follow the rules when playing contact sports, drive safely, and avoid dangerous activities. Yet, accidents happen, and when a concussion happens, it must be treated properly. Effective diagnosis and treatment is the first step to recovery.

There’s a great deal of research around concussions that is currently being conducted. We’re becoming more educated about the long-term effects of having multiple concussions. Prevention is growing, especially in terms of sports. Rules are being created and enforced to lower the rate of injury.

I look forward to what the future brings in regards to advancements in knowledge and prevention of concussions.

-Lisa Nicholson