By Dr. Jeff Daly, Clinical psychologist
So what exactly is a concussion? A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.
I have evaluated many concussed athletes, most recently a high school football athlete who was knocked unconscious during practice. After getting his “bell rung,” he experienced balance problems, nausea, irritability, dizziness, light sensitivity, and difficulty concentrating. The coach referred the student to me for neuropsychological evaluation to determine the extent of his injuries and to help determine when he can return to play. Medically he looked fine. Imaging by MRI was normal, which is common with concussions. I put him through a series of tests and found deficits in memory, processing speed, and impulse control, areas often affected by concussion. My question after testing him was, “did these deficits exist prior to concussion?” This is always a difficult question to answer. Fortunately, we have the technology to measure an athlete’s cognitive ability before and after a suspected concussion, which is crucial towards understanding the effects of concussion on the brain and when it is safe to return to play.
I have adopted ImPACT neuropsychological testing, which is testing an athlete before potential injury. This way, should the athlete suffer a concussion or other brain injury, I can retest them to determine the extent of the injury. ImPACT testing provides baseline information of neurocognitive ability in areas quite sensitive to concussions. This technology is adopted by the NFL, NHL, MLB, MLS, NBA, professional auto racing, professional rugby, Olympic sports, and even at the college and high school level. I advise anyone participating in contact sports to receive a baseline neurocognitive evaluation, because if you receive a concussion, this information is essential for determining the extent of your injuries as well as when it is safe to return to play.
Here at Valle Verde Pediatrics, we have a dual approach to concussion prevention and management. Our physicians provide the necessary medical evaluation and treatments of concussions and I provide the neuropsychological testing and examination, all of which ensure that your child receives the best and most comprehensive care.
300,000 sports-related mild traumatic brain injuries occur each year; at the high school level or below, with high school football players acquiring 60% of concussions. Because of this, it is recommended that any person participating in contact sports receive a baseline neurocognitive evaluation. Please feel free to contact me directly should you have any questions or would like to schedule an appt. for ImPACT testing. I look forward to meeting and helping you.
Office: 858-376-0230 Twitter:@Drjeffdaly