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Whether it’s the Super Bowl or any other NFL game…Concussion When my husband watches football, he jumps off the couch (as if watching a 50-inch screen doesn’t get us close enough to the action) and hovers at the TV screen the moment the play is getting tense.  When I watch football, the only time I jump off the couch to get closer to the game is when there’s a player down.  If there’s talk of possible concussion, I get more concerned than if it’s a broken bone or torn ACL.  I can’t help but think that this is just the latest concussion for the player and his brain is on the line.

Repeat concussions are what doctors worry about too.  They say the real harm can come when a player’s brain hasn’t fully recovered from a recent concussion before the athlete takes another blow to the head.   Doctors say our brains are mushy and moveable, and bang into the skull on impact. Without proper rest and treatment, an additional blow to the head raises the risk that the brain’s full function won’t bounce back.

“There is intrinsic injury to the brain when you have a concussion,” says Dr. Jennifer Werely, of New England Institute for Neurology & Headache.   “Think of that injury as a bruise.  While there is no blood involved, it takes time to heal.  So our job is to nurture the brain, to give it the time it needs to heal without putting it at any risk.”   Without timely and proper treatment, she says the player could be more “resistant to treatment” and take more time to recover from confusion, memory loss, headaches and other concussion symptoms.  Cognitive problems, she says, could be permanent.

Contrary to some popular thinking, this doctor says cocooning (completely resting the brain) at home in quiet darkness for weeks is not usually the way to go.  Most concussion patients at NEINH are advised to cocoon for just 48 to 72 hours.

“We practice a bit differently here because a lot of data suggests that getting people back into normalcy, so to speak, without risking head injury is actually the best way to approach concussion.  So it’s a delicate balance between getting the brain rest and getting the brain back into being normal,” says Dr. Werely.

“We practice a bit differently here because a lot of data suggests that getting people back into normalcy, so to speak, without risking head injury is actually the best way to approach concussion.  So it’s a delicate balance between getting the brain rest and getting the brain back into being normal,” says Dr. Werely.

So for example, after the initial 48-72 hours, Dr. Werely may suggest the patient refrain from watching much TV, but go ahead and get back to class or work.  She says every patient is different and “we have to handle them to their needs and their degree of injury.  Up front, bright lights would actually probably aggravate somebody, make them feel lousy.  But if you avoid bright lights for a prolonged period of time, it can become very difficult to reacclimatize to bright lights.  Which is why I say you don’t want to sit in a dark room for too long because that’s going to be a problem.  Every time you come out, you’ll want to go right back in.  So we have to reintroduce stimuli appropriately, so people don’t feel like they’re isolated, so people don’t get depressed, and so that the brain can recover.”

While Dr. Werely wants patients to get back to their normal lives as soon as possible … participating in sports is OUT during recovery, and especially during the acute phase of concussion.

Which brings us to a question…

Do you think players fake being okay?

“I think that there are pressures on athletes, particularly pro athletes to be fine, and we take care of a lot of those athletes here. Those athletes often are pushed to go back in the game.  And often I get the call that ‘hey you know, had this hit, and I went back into the game, but now I’m having trouble remembering how to pack my bag. That’s when a call has to go to the trainers and to the doctors of the team and the coach that we need to address this seriously because we don’t want subsequent injuries to cause longterm problems.”

On a brighter note, let me leave you with this:

Dr. Werely says, “When treated properly, the brain recovers beautifully in the majority of cases. Very rarely do people have chronic residual problems.”

The post SUPER BOWL STAKES HIGH, 22 BRAINS ON THE LINE ON EACH PLAY Brain News Brief appeared first on The Migrainer.