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Sports Concussion

Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI) or Concussion

Photo of rubgy playersMTBI or concussion used to be thought of as relatively benign and meaningless; in fact, if not handled appropriately, it can have serious, long-lasting consequences, which in rare cases is fatal.  The result of an impact that jars the brain, an MTBI represents a very complex set of metabolic processes which may present hours and even days after injury.  The time that it takes them to resolve is not always tied to the severity of the symptoms, even when the obvious symptoms, such as nausea or dizziness, have receded.  If a second concussion occurs before the first one has resolved, the effects can be severe particularly in adolescents.  The effects of concussion also tend to be cumulative, each one tending to make the next one both more easily incurred and more severe.

In the past few years, there has been an explosion of repeatable, computerized assessment tools that are very sensitive to the changes in brain function that occur with MTBI.  These are routinely used by almost all major sports teams and are rapidly becoming “standard of care”.  Along with other techniques, these make it much easier to add to the confidence of physicians and trainers that a patient has fully recovered before being put at further risk.  Such methods are particularly important because motivated athletes often try to minimize their symptoms in order to be allowed to return to play.  Although reasonably reliable safety assessments can be made without them, ideally, very inexpensive, computerized baseline measurements are done prior to an athlete's sports season.  That way, in the event of an accident, an athlete's present performance can be compared to his or her earlier one.  We offer computerized concussion assessment tools, including ImPACT, (the most widely used such program) for baselining and post-concussion assessment, as well as traditional neuropsychological assessment if recovery is prolonged or incomplete.  We also offer a rigorous approach to concussion management based on current research, with the intention of providing the most prudent and conservative approach to recovery.*

*In the Washington, DC and Northern Virginia area please contact Joseph Bleiberg, Ph.D., ABPP-CN, 9515 Linden Avenue, Bethesda, MD 20814, (301) 385-6461.

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