What you don’t know about concussions

Focusing on concussions

ORLANDO. Fla – A fall, a hard hit, an accident, all of these things can jar your brain, causing a concussion. Symptoms can range from nausea to passing out.

No matter what your symptoms are, you should see a doctor. Still five in 10 concussions go under-reported or even undetected but there’s new information on the long-lasting impact of a concussion.

From the hard hits to some pretty hard falls, more than 3 million people will suffer a concussion this year.

“We see a lot of concussions that happen on the playground or at recess or in PE class,” said Dr. Erin Reynolds, a clinical neuropsychologist at Baylor Scott & White Health.

But do you know the common signs?

“We always look out for loss of consciousness, which is actually pretty rare, any stumbling, being off balance, vomiting, and then following the first several minutes, we look for headaches, dizziness, nausea, fogginess, any sensitivity to light or noise,” said Reynolds.

There are actually 22 symptoms but only one is required to diagnose a concussion. And in the largest study done to date, reseachers have found that just one moderate to severe concussion can have a long-term impact on brain function, including memory.

If you suffer three or more concussions, you are at higher risk for worsened brain function later in life. In particular, participants’ attention spans were impacted, as well as their ability to complete complex tasks.

If you had four or more mild concussions, processing speed and working memory worsened. And each additional reported concussion was linked to progressively worse cognitive function.

“So, we used to think that concussion was homogeneous injury, meaning a concussion is a concussion, everyone is the same. We now know the same person may have multiple concussions and they may all look very different,” said Reynolds.

What researchers do know, anyone can get one, there’s no blood test or scan to detect it, and no medicine to cure it. The only things that help are mental and physical rest.

Researchers are now looking into subconcussions. They’re caused by an impact to the head that doesn’t show obvious symptoms. New research suggests that these subconcussions can cause long-term effects such as memory problems and depression. They are most often seen in football, soccer, car crashes and assaults.