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Brain Injury Awareness Month: A focus on concussions

March is Brain Injury Awareness Month. In observance of that, neuroscience centers, neurologists and hospitals are all trying to spread education about brain injuries.

One of the focuses this year is on a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that many people don't recognize as potentially serious: the concussion.

Concussions are routinely dismissed as "just a knock on the head," especially among young athletes in sports that involve a lot of head knocks. Those in sports like soccer, football and hockey take all-too-frequent blows to the head. Players are often encouraged or even expected to "brush it off" and get back in the game as soon as possible.

Neurologists would like to see that change. Instead of encouraging -- or even allowing -- young players in high schools and colleges to get back in a game too soon after a head blow, there should be an evaluation of how serious the concussion actually is based on cognitive test results and a healthy lapse of time so that any injury has time to show itself.

Doctors and researchers stress that concussions don't always show their full symptoms immediately after their injury. An athlete who returns to play too soon is at risk of compounding the damage if he or she takes another blow to the head before completely healing from the last. While even one hit to the head can be a problem, a second or third impact can cause permanent long-term brain damage.

Doctors are working to educate schools, coaches, and parents on the dangers of sport-related concussions because teens are at such a huge risk. High school football players account for 47 percent of all reports sports-related concussions, with 33 percent occurring during practice. One out of every five high school athletes will sustain a concussion during the season and 33 percent of those injured will report two or more concussions in the same year.

One of the most important things that doctors would like to people to understand is that a head injury does not have to look traumatic to be traumatic--90 percent of diagnosed concussions don't even involve a momentary loss of consciousness.

If your child suffered a brain injury because he or she was allowed back into a game too soon after a concussion, consider talking with an attorney to discuss your options.

Source: Neuro Restorative, "March is Brain Injury Awareness Month," accessed March 03, 2017

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