Concussions: Fact vs Fiction

Patrick Inman, Staff Writer

Concussions have become common injuries the last several years among many children, as well as adults. With so many different viewpoints and different severity of concussions, what do people know to be true about this traumatic head injury?

A concussion occurs after an individuals head is violently struck, or twisted resulting in loss of consciousness, amnesia, headaches, and many other related symptoms.

As far as treatment goes, there is no specific treatment for concussions. This is largely due to the fact that concussions range in severity.

Treatment is typically decided by whomever provides the care and what their standpoint is on the head injury.

“We need randomized clinical trials,” Dr. Cantu, a neurosurgeon said on the issue. “What you have now is  a smattering of publications, some suggesting this, some suggesting that.”

With treatment options varying every year, there are several different options for the victims of concussions.

Hockey All-star Sidney Crosby received concussion care from a chiropractor who treated patients in a whole body gyroscope.  Hall of Fame quarterback Joe Namath was treated in various sessions in a pressurized oxygen chamber. These are considered to be very unique ways to treat the injury.

One particularly interesting form of treatment was issued for Nascar driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.  Earnhardt went to UPMC, and they advised him to do the opposite of what one might think; they advised him put himself in situations that would escalate his symptoms.

Earnhardt Jr. accomplished this task by doing things such as walking backward into a dark room, while moving his head left to right.

Oddly enough, various exercises such as these helped Earnhardt Jr. make a fast and full recovery.

Many questions have been asked in regards as to if concussions can be treated fully or if the injured will be effected by them throughout a lifetime.

Former Allegheny county pathologist Dr. Bennet Omalu had this to say on if concussions can be treated: “No physician should tell a parent that it is safe for your children to receive repeated blows to the head… It is wrong to state that concussions can be treated and cured.”

Dr. Omalu has linked brain injuries such as concussions to a brain disease named Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy. This connection has led Omalu to believe that concussions can have long-lasting effects on the victims.

According to a 2014 study, more than a million students play high-school football with 67,000 suffering a concussion every year. Many of these high school athletes who are thought to have suffered the head injury did not seek medical attention.

The danger of not receiving medical treatment for a concussion has been well documented; however, several opinions on concussions led to students believing they haven’t suffered anything major when they actually have, which is why they do not seek medical help.

Despite intense research on the subject of concussions within the recent years, victims still have no specific way to treat concussions. However, the general consensus is that care for concussions has improved in recent years. Changes are filtering through community athletic programs such as Somerset County, which ended tackle football for youth over the summer.