Posts Tagged ‘concussion treatment’

Key Steps To Diagnosing And Treating Concussions

orth-concussion-checklistv3The current medical definition of a concussion is essentially a ‘transient alteration in mental status that may or may not require loss of consciousness that may result from a direct or indirect blow to the head.’ The struggle many of us feel when we read this is, ‘What does that mean?’

It is critical for orthopaedic surgeons who work on the sidelines of athletic teams, athletic trainers, athletes, parents of athletes, coaches and school administrators to be able to correctly recognize and diagnose a concussion. After an athlete suffers a head injury, any misdiagnosis may lead to severe brain damage, prolonged disability, and even death.

However, a concussion may be tough to diagnose if a person does not know what to look for, or if an athlete does not report his or her symptoms. A concussion can present itself in a variety of ways, making it difficult for non-concussion experts to detect, diagnose and treat. Other than temporary loss of consciousness, which is most recognizable, other signs and symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.”

Concussion diagnosis

While signs and symptoms of a concussion generally show up shortly after the injury, some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. Currently, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that between 1.6 and 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur each year in the United States. However, it is believed that around 50 percent of concussions go unreported.

Because the effects of a concussion are not always visible, many athletes return to their sport too quickly following a head injury. That’s why it’s crucial to educate parents, coaches and other athletic officials about the importance of having head injuries examined by a specialized physician who has experience caring for patients with concussion.

Concussion treatment

According to recent studies, 79 percent of Americans believe there is no way to cure a concussion and only 29 percent of Americans believe all concussions are treatable. These days, a concussion is fully treatable, but the key is to identify risk factors that may prolong and complicate recovery early on. At Emory, our team of concussion experts pioneer and utilize the latest treatment therapies to deliver treatment plans developed for each athlete. Some treatment recommendations include cognitive and physical rest, while others require more aggressive therapies. No two concussions are alike; therefore no two concussion treatment plans should the same.

To schedule a consultation with a concussion expert at Emory, or to see one of our sports medicine specialists, please request an appointment online or call 404-778-3350.

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About Emory Sports Medicine Center

The Emory Sports Medicine Center is a leader in advanced treatments for patients with orthopaedic and sports-related injuries. From surgical sports medicine expertise to injury rehabilitation, our sports medicine physicians and specialists provide comprehensive treatments for athletic injuries in Atlanta, Dunwoody and Johns Creek. Constantly conducting research and developing new techniques, the sports medicine specialists at Emory are experienced in diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of sports injuries, including concussions.

About Dr. Pombo

pombo-matMathew Pombo, MD, joined the Emory Orthopaedic Surgery faculty as a highly regarded orthopaedic surgeon, speaker, author and researcher who specializes in getting patients with injuries back to an active lifestyle. His professional interests include anatomic single- and double-bundle ACL reconstruction, rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, meniscal/cartilage injury and repair, joint preservation in the aging athlete, and minimally invasive joint replacement surgery of the knee and shoulder.

Dr. Pombo has conducted extensive scientific research, published multiple journal articles, written several book chapters, and has presented at both national and international meetings on topics related to sports medicine, concussions, and orthopaedic surgery. He has been instrumental in bringing awareness to sports-related concussions and the new Georgia “Return to Play” Act and is one of the top regarded experts in the area for the treatment of concussions. He currently serves as the Director of the Emory Sports Concussion Program.

Dr. Pombo, his wife, and two boys, Eli and Henry, live in Johns Creek, GA. Dr. Pombo enjoys spending time with his family during his days off. Many of his patients also enjoy watching him succeed in his second career as a professional race car driver, where he can be found driving at race tracks across North America.

Experts Reveal New Post-Concussion Treatment Recommendations: Rest Is Not Best

footballEarlier this month, 37 concussion specialists and researchers from around the country met in Pittsburgh to discuss the effectiveness of a common treatment option for concussions. I had the honor of representing Emory Healthcare and participating in this game-changing conference.

The goal of the two-day conference, which was held at University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC), was to get the word out that concussions are treatable injuries and should no longer be treated with strict rest alone. There were several consensus statements on the issue that were debated in detail, and ultimately agreed/disagreed upon.

After much conversation, my fellow concussion experts and I came to the conclusion that despite popular belief, prolonged rest, a common treatment recommendation for concussions, does not aid in the recovery from a concussion and can actually worsen it. This conclusion is somewhat controversial because prolonged rest is a worldwide treatment method used by almost every person following a concussion. A major takeaway from this group was agreement that concussions are treatable and under the appropriate care an athlete should recover from the injury and excel at his or her highest performance levels.

Attention to traumatic brain injuries has increased over the past few years mainly due to an increase in sports-related injuries, especially from football. Athletes in the United States suffer around 300,000 concussions every year, but many mild concussions go undiagnosed and unreported so the number is even higher. Each concussion is unique and there is no one-size-fits-all way to treat them. Symptoms are not always visible, making it hard to definitively know when it’s safe for an athlete to return to play.

Because concussions are unique to each patient, assembling clinical profiles with common symptoms and treatments is key to the future development of concussion research and therapies. Active rehabilitation of concussions includes managing overall activity, subthreshold cognitive and physical activity, and focused therapy. Depending on the clinical profile with which a person suffering a concussion best aligns, the treatment plan may include certain specialized therapies, periods of rest, or cognitive exercise.

While this agreement did not produce immediate treatment protocols or guidelines, our hope is that the conference will spark more research on the subject. Over the next few months, the other physicians and I will compile our findings to be published in a medical journal, which will generate additional papers. As these papers are shared publicly, I am confident we will begin to move the ball forward regarding current and future concussion research and care.

We are proud that Emory Healthcare is recognized as a leading concussion program, as evidenced by our role during this national conference, and because of the amazing opportunity it will afford us to play an active role in changing the way concussions are treated for generations to come.

About Dr. Pombo

pombo-matMathew Pombo, MD, joined the Emory Orthopaedic Surgery faculty as a highly regarded orthopaedic surgeon, speaker, author and researcher who specializes in getting patients with injuries back to an active lifestyle. His professional interests include anatomic single- and double-bundle ACL reconstruction, rotator cuff tears, shoulder instability, meniscal/cartilage injury and repair, joint preservation in the aging athlete, and minimally invasive joint replacement surgery of the knee and shoulder.

Dr. Pombo has conducted extensive scientific research, published multiple journal articles, written several book chapters, and has presented at both national and international meetings on topics related to sports medicine, concussions, and orthopaedic surgery. He has been instrumental in bringing awareness to sports-related concussions and the new Georgia “Return to Play” Act and is one of the top regarded experts in the area for the treatment of concussions. He currently serves as the Director of the Emory Sports Concussion Program.

Dr. Pombo, his wife, and two boys, Eli and Henry, live in Johns Creek, GA. Dr. Pombo enjoys spending time with his family during his days off. Many of his patients also enjoy watching him succeed in his second career as a professional race car driver where he can be found driving at race tracks across North America.

Related Resources
Warning Signs of Concussions Not Always Visible
Concussions and Female Athletes
How to Recover Fully and Quickly from a Concussion
Takeaways from Dr. Mautner’s Concussion Chat

Warning Signs of Concussions Not Always Visible

Because the effects are not always visible, many athletes return to their sport too quickly following concussions and head injuries. Unfortunately, this can cause long-term negative health effects. That’s why it’s critical to educate parents, coaches and other athletic officials about the importance of having head injuries examined by a specialized physician who has experience caring for patients with concussion, which can occur with or without the loss of consciousness. Learn more about what we are doing at Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine to care for concussions and to educate the community on the importance of waiting to return to play following a head injury in this short video:

Related Resources:

What are the Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion?

Symptoms of ConcussionEarlier this year Governor Nathan Deal signed a youth concussion bill that will go into effect on January 1, 2014.  The new law mandates that if a young athlete is suspected as having a concussion he or she will not be allowed to return to their sport until cleared by a healthcare professional.

If not treated appropriately and released,  the young athlete can be at a higher risk for more concussions.  Multiple concussions can have a negative, long term effect on the brain by impairing memory and processing new information.

Schools can prepare for this change by educating teachers, students and coaches on the signs and symptoms of a concussion.

Symptoms of Concussion Include

  • Stiff neck
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Personality changes
  • Difficulty walking, speaking or using their arms
  • Severe headache
  • Vomiting over and over
  • Confusion that does not get better
  • Unusual sleepiness
  • Convulsions

Other important facts:

  • Over 50 percent of the youth concussions occur in football.
  • Approximately 10 percent of all high school age athletes will suffer from a concussion as a result of their sport in a typical year.
  • Only  10 percent of patients who suffer from a  concussion lose consciousness.

To protect our young athletes all coaches, recreational leaders and parents need to take an active role in ensuring young athletes who receive bumps/blows to the head get evaluated by a physician ASAP.

Related Resources:

About Dr. Olufade          

Oluseun Olufade, M.D.Dr. Olufade is board certified in Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation and Interventional Pain Medicine. He completed fellowship training in both Interventional Pain Medicine and Sports Medicine. During his fellowship training, he was a team physician for Philadelphia Union, a major league soccer (MLS) team, Widener University Football team and Interboro High School Football team.

Dr. Olufade employs a comprehensive approach in the treatment of sports medicine  injuries and spinal disorders by integrating physical therapy, orthotic prescription and minimally invasive procedures. He specializes also in treatment of sports related concussions, tendinopathies and platelet rich plasma (PRP) injections. He performs procedures such as fluoroscopic-guided spine injections and ultrasound guided peripheral joint injections. Dr. Olufade individualizes his plan with a focus on functional restoration. Dr. Olufade sees patients at our clinic at Emory Johns Creek Hospital.

Dr Olufade has held many leadership roles including Chief Resident, Vice-President of Resident Physician Council of AAPM&R, President of his medical school class and Editor of the PM&R Newsletter. He has authored multiple book chapters and presented at national conferences.

About Emory Ortho, Sports and Spine in Johns Creek and Duluth
Emory Orthopaedics, Sports & Spine has recently opened two new clinics, one in Johns Creek and one in Duluth. Emory physicians, Kyle Hammond, MD, and Oluseun A. Olufade, MD see patients in Johns Creek. Mathew Pombo, MD and T. Scott Maughon, MD see patients in Duluth. Our new clinic locations care for a full range of orthopedic conditions including: sports medicine, hand/wrist/elbow, foot/ankle, joint replacement, shoulder, knee/hip, concussions, and spine. To schedule an appointment call 404-778-3350

Take-Aways from Dr. Mautner’s Concussion Chat

Thank you for attending the live chat on “Concussions and the Young Athlete”.  As you know, concussions are serious conditions that need to be evaluated soon after they occur.   It is important that all parents, coaches and athletes should be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion in order to treat and heal properly.  If you were unable to join us, some key points we touched on during the chat are:

Question: What are symptoms of a concussion? 

Ken Mautner, MDAnswer: Symptoms of a concussion do not always arise right after the impact and they can last for days or weeks.  Some of the most common signs are:

How to Recover Fully and Quickly from a Concussion

ConcussionsConcussions get a lot of press in the heart of football season as football players aggressively go after the big win each week but this very serious injury can happen to anyone. It is very important to know the symptoms of this injury to ensure full recovery.

A concussion usually occurs when there is impact to the head or neck area that causes an alteration in mental status. This may or may not involve loss of consciousness (passing out). Common symptoms following a concussion include headaches, noise sensitivity, problems with concentration and memory, irritability, depression, anxiety, fatigue and poor judgment. Some symptoms appear immediately and others may take weeks or months to develop. Symptoms can also continue for weeks, months or even a year or more after a concussion, especially if not managed properly or if an athlete returns to their sport to soon.

Emory Sports Medicine physician, Dr. Ken Mautner, says it is important to take proper precautions and visit a physician right away if you suspect any type of brain trauma. Typically, mental and physical rest is the best prescription following a concussion. Medications are typically not prescribed early on after a concussion, but sometimes are helpful to patients who suffer from prolonged symptoms, known as post-concussion syndrome.

Luckily, most patients who sustain a concussion will make a full recovery within days or weeks after the injury. Some patients still experience symptoms for up to 6 months but are OK after this time period. Patients who have had repeated concussions or more severe symptoms may take longer to recover or may have permanent effects from the injury.

Dr. Mautner stresses how important it is to follow helmet and safety precautions when participating in any sport in order to prevent head and neck injuries, including concussions. Experts are constantly studying head injuries and developing new protocols and devices to ensure we all stay safe as we participate in the sports we love.

About Ken Mautner, MD

Ken Mautner, MDKen Mautner, MD is an assistant professor in the Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation and the Department of Orthopedic Surgery. Dr. Mautner started practicing at Emory in 2004 after completing a fellowship in Primary Care Sports Medicine at the American Sports Medicine Institute in Birmingham, Alabama. He is board certified in PM&R with a subspecialty certification in Sports Medicine. Dr. Mautner currently serves as head team physician for Agnes Scott College and St. Pius High School and a team physician for Emory University Athletics. He is also a consulting physician for Georgia Tech Athletics, Neuro Tour, and several local high schools. He has focused his clinical interest on sports concussions, where he is regarded as a local and regional expert in the field. In 2005, he became one of the first doctors in Georgia to use office based neuropsychological testing to help determine return to play recommendations for athletes. He also is an expert in diagnostic and interventional musculoskeletal ultrasound and teaches both regional and national courses on how to perform office based ultrasound. He regularly performs Platelet Rich Plasma (PRP) injections for patients with chronic tendinopathy. Dr. Mautner also specializes in the care of athletes with spine problems as well as hip and groin injuries.

About Emory Sports Medicine Center
The Emory Sports Medicine Center is a leader in advanced treatments for patients with orthopedic and sports-related injuries. From surgical sports medicine expertise to innovative therapy and athletic injury rehabilitation, our sports medicine physicians and specialists provide the most comprehensive treatment for athletic injuries in Atlanta and the state of Georgia. Constantly conducting research and developing new techniques, Emory sports medicine specialists are experienced in diagnosing and treating the full spectrum of sports injuries.