Concussions off the Field


PHILADELPHIA, Pa. (Ivanhoe Newswire) — It’s true, a lot of young people suffer concussions during organized, contact sports, but more than half of concussions happen off playing fields and most likely during recess on playgrounds. Here’s what to look for and what to do if your children get hurt.

Nine-year-old Lenny Binczewski likes piano, but he would much rather throw a ball or ride a bike.  However, when Lenny suffered a serious concussion during school recess, his concerned doctor suggested rest to avoid taxing his brain.

“I read a lot and I played with my Legos a little bit,” said Lenny.

Lenny’s mom, Amanda Binczewski, told Ivanhoe, “The nurse had suggested that we follow concussion protocol just to be on the safe side. My husband woke him up twice. I woke him up one time. He seemed fine the next morning, so we still were not concerned at all at that point.”

Two days later, Lenny’s head still hurt so that meant a trip to the hospital. Lenny had what’s called a global headache.

“One thing I remember is that he had hit his head in the back, but when she asked him where his head hurt, he said it hurts all over here,” explained Amanda.

That ‘all over’ pain is more consistent with a concussion.

Christina Master, MD, a sports medicine pediatrician at CHOP said, “It’s not a direct contusion on the brain that’s a problem. Actually, what happens is because your brain shakes inside your skull, the neurons all stretch. It’s really a more diffuse injury.”

Lenny’s doctor ordered rest to calm things down and avoid what’s known as second impact syndrome.

“Because you hadn’t quite recovered from the first injury, there’s a major catastrophic event that happens,” detailed Dr. Master.

Here’s what a concussion often looks like:  being dizzy, or feeling something is ‘off’, feeling nauseated, not being able to maintain good balance, and seeing double or blurred vision.

Lenny’s got some first-hand advice of his own, “Well, you should not play football on concrete.”

Dr. Master said that children make up the largest portion of people who get concussions, saying the professional athletes we hear about are the tip of the iceberg.  If you have any doubts about a head injury, call your doctor.

Contributors to this news report include: Donna Parker, Field Producer, Roque Correa, Editor and Kirk Manson, Photographer.

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REPORT #2563

BACKGROUND: A concussion, also known as a mild traumatic brain injury, is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to either the head or the body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. A concussion changes how the brain normally functions. Concussions can have serious and long-term health effects, and even a seemingly mild ‘ding’ or a bump on the head can be serious. Signs and symptoms of concussion include headache, nausea, fatigue, confusion or memory problems, sleep disturbances, or mood changes. Symptoms are typically noticed right after the injury, but some might not be recognized until days or weeks later. Between 1.7 and 3 million sports and recreation-related concussions happen each year. Around 300,000 are football related. Five of 10 concussions go unreported or undetected, and two in 10 high school athletes who play contact sports, including soccer and lacrosse, will suffer a concussion this year. Girls’ soccer sees the second most concussions of all high school sports. Girls’ basketball sees the third most.

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DIAGNOSIS AND TREATMENT: High school athletes who sustain a concussion are three times more likely to sustain a second concussion. Lack of proper diagnosis and management of concussion may result in serious long-term consequences, or risk of coma or death. A health care professional will be able to decide when it is safe to return to sports. Do not return to play with a known or suspected concussion until evaluated and given permission by an appropriate health care professional. Second concussions that occur before you have recovered can be very serious. Rest is the most appropriate way to allow your brain to recover from a concussion. Your doctor will recommend that you physically and mentally rest to recover. This means avoiding activities that increase any of your symptoms, such as general physical exertion, sports or any vigorous movements, until these activities no longer provoke your symptoms. This rest also includes limiting activities that require thinking and mental concentration, such as playing video games, watching TV, schoolwork, reading, texting or using a computer.

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NEW BLOOD TEST FOR DIAGNOSIS: The Food and Drug Administration approved the first blood test to be used in determining whether someone has a brain-injuring concussion. The test looks for two brain proteins that leak into the blood within minutes of a concussive blow to the head. Gunnar Brolinson, MD, vice provost for research and discipline chair for sports medicine at Via College of Osteopathic Medicine in Virginia, said it will help not only sideline doctors like himself but emergency room physicians everywhere in deciding which patients will need expensive and high-dose radiation CT scans. The Virginia Tech research team sent blood samples from athletes to Banyan Biomarkers. During the trial, patients were still given scans. When comparing the blood results and the scans, the blood test proved highly reliable in determining in which patients the scans would show brain injuries. “The cool thing is if it’s negative you don’t have the CT,” Brolinson said. The process is similar to one used when a patient comes in with chest pain. Blood is drawn to look for certain enzymes to help determine if the patient is having a heart attack or indigestion. With the concussion test, the two proteins show up immediately after trauma, but the test requires a lab and about three hours to complete.


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CHOP Orthopedics                                                    Camillia Travia, Public Relations Specialist