Athletes don’t have to suffer a direct strike to the head in order to suffer a concussion injury.
Adairsville business leaders learned some of the latest information related to concussion injuries from Dr. Garvin Lee Chandler, a family physician with the Harbin Clinic in Adairsville, during the October Cartersville-Bartow County Chamber of Commerce Eggs and Issues breakfast. Chandler is also a former Baylor University football wide receiver.
Chandler, who came through the Family Residency program at Floyd Medical Center, said that two in ten high school athletes involved in contact sports are likely to suffer a concussion at some point, but also stressed that many of the concussions — up to a couple of million a year — go unreported. He said that while helmet-to-helmet contact in football gets so much attention, a solid blow to the chest that causes a head to suddenly whiplash can also result in a concussion.
A concussion usually causes confusion right after the injury occurs. Other symptoms include a severe headache, dizziness, nausea and vomiting or unusual sleepiness. Still other symptoms can occur hours after a blow, including trouble walking or talking, numbness in the extremities, memory issues, trouble sleeping and changes in vision.
“The way we treat concussions is actually changing,” Chandler said. “Females are more likely to get a concussion than males, and females are also more likely to take longer than males to recover from their concussion.”
Dr. Chandler said that protocols for dealing with concussions now generally call for the individual to refrain from physical activity for up to 48 hours, abstain from any kind of contact activity, avoid video games and constant use of a cell phone and in the case of student athletes, perhaps a day or day out of school focused on complete rest.
If someone is thought to have suffered a concussion, a doctor will generally do a full neurological exam.
“If, on the neurological exam, we determine there is a chance for a more serious injury, something like a brain bleed or something along those lines, we’ll send him for brain imaging but not every kid who has a concussion will get brain imaging,” Chandler said.
The young physician said doctors differ on the use of certain medicines related to the treatment of concussions because some feel that the medications will mask the symptoms. Chandler said that he, personally, is really opposed to anti-nausea medications because that is one symptom that he wants to keep a close eye on.
Chandler said a second concussion is usually more serious than the primary injury and that it is always important not to try to rush a young athlete back into action. In fact, he said it is not unusual at all for an athlete who suffers a football Friday injury, to miss at least the next week’s game.
“That’s just for everybody’s safety,” Chandler said.