Canton, Ohio: New research highlighting the dangers for athletes suffering concussions has heightened awareness about the short and potentially long-term affects associated with these brain injuries.
So much so, that recently, the Ohio High School Athletic Association adopted a rule change recommended by the National Federation of State High School Association for the 2010 high school football season with regards to how to deal with concussions. Officials must now “remove any player who shows signs, symptoms or behaviors consistent with a concussion, such as loss of consciousness, headache, dizziness, confusion or balance problems.” In addition, athletes cannot return to play until cleared by a health care professional.
Mercy Sports Medicine is the first in Stark County to offer ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing)–a sophisticated, research-based concussion management program to help health care professionals evaluate an athlete’s recovery following a concussion. Mark J. Hudak, medical director of Mercy Sports Medicine, Gregg A. Martin, Ph.D., neuropsychologist at Mercy Medical Center, and Mercy Sports Medicine athletic trainers and physical therapists are part of Mercy’s team specially trained in the evaluation and management of concussions.
Here’s how it works. Athletes complete a 20-minute, computerized baseline test to evaluate multiple aspects of neurocognitive functioning, including verbal and visual memory, attention span, brain processing speed and reaction time. If a concussion is suspected during the season, a follow-up test is administered to see if the results have changed from the baseline. This comparison helps to diagnose and implement appropriate management of the concussion. For athletes where baseline data is unavailable, ImPACT has a database of thousands of non-injured athletes, which can be used for effective evaluation and comparisons.
“When an athlete is not fully recovered from an initial concussion, they are at greater risk for recurrent, cumulative, and potentially life-threatening consequences of a second concussive injury,” Hudak says. “Research reveals that younger athletes recover more slowly than college and professional athletes after a concussion making medical management even more important.”
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can occur days or even weeks or months following the impact. An athlete may experience chronic headaches, fatigue, sleep difficulties, personality changes, dizziness, and deficits in short-term memory and problem solving.
A study by the Center for Injury Research and policy at Nationwide Children’s Hospital in Columbus, Ohio, revealed 40.5 percent of high school athletes returned to play too soon after suffering a concussion. Even more alarming, one in six football players who sustained a concussion and lost consciousness returned to play the same day.
“Our hope is to help local athletes safely return to play after experiencing a concussion to prevent long-term complications,” Hudak says.
If you suspect your child experienced a concussion, or a concussion was diagnosed, schedule an appointment with Hudak to objectively evaluate your child’s post-injury condition and track recovery for safe return to play. Hudak is available by appointment at Mercy Health Center of Plain. Call 330-588-4884 for an appointment. For more information about Mercy Sports Medicine’s concussion management program, call 330-966-8920.
• A concussion is a brain injury that frequently involves physical as well as cognitive symptoms.
• Ten percent of all contact sport athletes sustain concussions yearly.
• Sixty-three percent of all concussions occur in football.
• An athlete who sustains a concussion is four to six time more likely to sustain a second concussion.
• Effects of concussion are cumulative in athletes who return to play prior to complete recovery.
ImPACT is a user-friendly computer based testing program specifically designed for the management of sports-related concussion. The instrument has been designed after approximately 10-years of University-based, grant-supported research. ImPACT is currently the most widely utilized computerized program in the world and is implemented effectively across high school, collegiate, and professional levels of sport participation. For more information, visit impacttest.com.
About Mercy Medical Center
Mercy Medical Center, a ministry of the Sisters of Charity Health System, operates a 476-bed hospital serving Stark, Carroll, Wayne, Holmes and Tuscarawas Counties and parts of Southeastern Ohio. It has 620 members on its Medical Staff and employs 2,500 people. Mercy operates outpatient health centers in Carrollton, Jackson Township, Lake Township, Louisville, North Canton, Plain Township and Tuscarawas County. A Catholic hospital, Mercy Medical Center upholds the mission and philosophy of the Sisters of Charity of St. Augustine and continues to be responsive to the needs of the community. For more information, see cantonmercy.org.
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