HERE’S TO YOUR HEALTH
The walking wounded
Many of us have had a substantial thump to the head at one time or another. Maybe it was in an automobile accident that we clobbered or noggin, or when we fell off the stool changing the light in the kitchen, or we had a particularly hard hit on the football field.
Sometimes a blow to the head is serious, and we need to go to the hospital, but 90 percent of head injuries do not requite immediate medical attention.
According to the Centers for Disease Control, most mild head injuries do not come to the attention of a medical professional. But unrecognized concussive injuries have had a significant impact on our society.
C. Everett Coop, M. D., a retired Surgeon General for the United States, declared that mild brain injuries were the most unrecognized and undiagnosed medical condition in the U. S. What this means is that many people are currently walking around who have had a mild brain injury and are having problems but don’t really know the cause and nature of these problems. These are the walking wounded, said Coop.
The symptoms of a concussion vary. One doesn’t need to have sustained a loss of consciousness from a head injury for a concussion to occur. Sometimes, a person may feel dazed or confused following a blow to the head. They may have some nausea, headache and/ or irritability. They may have difficulty concentrating.
Most individuals who sustain a concussion or mild brain injury recover all deficits in cognitive functioning within six months of the accident. But some, approximately 15 percent, continue to have persistent problems in cognitive and psychological functioning for years following their injury.
This a more serious condition called post con- cussion syndrome that involves disturbances in both cognitive and emotional functioning.
Persistent symptoms of a concussion that can cause problems are often cognitive, such as memory loss, poor concentration, inability to multi- task or solve abstract problems, Speech can be affected, and the ability to understand speech and written language.
In addition to cognitive problems, a post- concussive person may find themselves extremely sensitive to light and sound, or the opposite, less sensitive to sensation. They may be irritable, easily angered or they may be prone to tearfulness and very emotional with wide mood swings.
Sometimes, just he opposite occurs and the individual is less emotionally responsive. Anxiety and depression are common. They may have difficulty with balance and dizziness, or fatigue very easily.
Obviously, difficulties in these areas can cause problems at work and at home. It is frequently a family member or co- worker who recognizes these changes in a person who has sustained a concussion.
One of the difficulties with concussion injuries is that it is hard to know what the problem is. But if an individual has any history of a blow to the head and has some of the problems noted here, it is a good idea to be checked out by a neurologist and possibly a neuropsychologist. These are the professionals most likely to detect and treat a concussion.