The walk­ing wounded

The Covington News - - News -

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.

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