Football season is about to be underway and the hard hitting is about to begin. Over 2 million people get concussions in the U.S every year; it is getting out of hand. Concussions are a major safety hazard because it can mess your brain up badly.
The brain hits these bony structures inside of the skull, and that causes damage to occur. When this happens it can be more severe depending on the way that the brain interacts with these structures.
Common symptoms of concussions include fatigue, headache, nausea, blurriness of vision, memory loss and occasionally, loss of consciousness. Doctors often grade traumatic brain injuries according to whether they are considered “mild,” “moderate” or “severe.” Manley believes more precision is needed to better define, diagnose and treat these injuries, which can vary widely from patient to patient.
“There’s a subset of these individuals, at least 15 percent, that go on to have persistent problems,” said Dr. Geoffrey Manley, Chief of Neurosurgery at San Francisco General Hospital. “These aren’t simply having your bell rung, these are life-changing events.”
In 2010, he received funding from the National Institutes of Health to launch a pilot study that recruited 600 concussion patients from several national trauma centers, and tracked their progress for up to six months following their injuries.
Each of the patients had a CT scan, an imaging technique that Manley calls “the gold standard” of evaluating brain injuries.
Patients also had an MRI scan which detected the presence of micro-bleeds and bruising in the brain for nearly 30 percent of patients who otherwise had normal CT scans.
“These patients with these abnormalities on their MRI scan took much longer to recover and did worse at three months,” Manley said. The sports injuries have been off the charts lately and the doctors are working hard to have all of these concussions happen.