Monday, January 14, 2013

Concussions and Traumatic Brain Injury: An Update

In recent years, the medical community has begun to realize that there are significant long-term consequences to concussions.  There have been some high profile sports figures who suffered symptoms as a result of repeated trauma to the head, now widely recognized as a syndrome:  Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE).  Last May, the suicide of the NFL player, Junior Seau made the headlines.  Just last week, there was a news release about the findings of his brain on autopsy.  His brain was given to the National Institute of Health for research, and the team that examined his brain found evidence on a cellular level, that he had CTE.  One of the key features of this syndrome is depression, contributing to suicidal ideation.  This condition cannot be diagnosed until after death, when the brain structure can be examined microscopically.  On Wednesday, Jan. 16th, ASET  hosted a webinar on the topic of concussion, which will now be available for purchase as a recording via the ASET website.  I was fortunate to be in attendance at the New England Society of END Technologists meeting last October, and I heard this speaker give her presentation on this topic.  Dr. Janet Kent is a highly respected expert on concussion and head injury in sports, and directs the Concussion Management Clinic at South Shore Hospital in Weymouth, MA.    Her talk includes information about exactly what happens inside the brain at the time of the impact, and progressive changes to brain structure on a cellular level.   Did you know that the MRI does not show abnormalities in this condition, but that the EEG may be a better predictor of injury?  As a member of the neurodiagnostic team, it is important to stay up to date on neurological care as you may be the person who takes a history from a patient, prior to doing an EEG, and you might be the one to think about the possibility of this syndrome, as a cause for symptoms.
If you are a parent, or a grandparent, or have young folks whom you care about who are active in sports, it will be really important for you to listen to this update.  Dr. Kent speaks about prevention and treatment for school sports injuries.  This happens not only in football!  For girls, head injuries may occur during cheerleading or gymnastics!    The webinar awards 1 ASET ACE credit and costs $89 for ASET members.