Many people think of concussions as minor, short-term problems whose effects last only a few hours or days. Unfortunately, as our experienced brain injury attorneys are well aware, the effects of a concussion can last long beyond its symptoms, and well past the period when most victims – and their families, friends, and coaches – stop exercising care and return to normal, strenuous activities.
Unfortunately, this leaves victims vulnerable to much-more-dangerous successive concussions, as well as a host of other neurological problems and disorders which can be caused by resuming activity too early.
Now, a study out of the University of Kentucky and published in the Journal of Clinical Neurophysiology, has quantified the problem, establishing that altered brain activity and other concussion effects persist for at least days after symptoms are gone.
The typical symptoms of a concussion include disorientation, confusion, headache, memory loss, and difficulty concentrating, reduced cognitive processing, and reduced verbal abilities. These symptoms generally disappear within 5-10 days of an injury, depending on the severity of the injury.
The new study tracked the persistence of these symptoms following a concussion, but also used neuropsychological testing to look for changes in brain function, as well as physiological abnormalities post-injury. The MEP testing used measured “reaction time” – not reaction to an external stimulus, but the time it takes for the patient’s limbs to receive a signal from the brain.
The study looked at student-athletes who had sustained a concussion in the past 24 hours, as well as a control group of student-athletes who had not. The subjects from each group were matched on a number of categories: age, gender, sport and position played, prior history of concussion, history of learning disabilities and ADHD.
What the researchers found was interesting. While concussive symptoms decreased and generally disappeared within 10 days of the injury, delays in brain response did not. In fact, the post-concussion physiological changes actually increased over the 10-day period following the brain injury.
Unfortunately, the study did not look beyond the initial 10-day period. It is thus not yet possible to know just how far beyond the initial injury these physiological changes persist. But there remains an important lesson here for parents, coaches, and the injured themselves: concussions, like all traumatic brain injuries, must be taken seriously. To avoid even more serious injuries and even more severe consequences, concussion victims must rest and avoid strenuous activity well after symptoms have receded.
For a free consultation with an experienced Chicago brain injury lawyer at Passen Law Group, call us at (312) 527-4500.