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Sports-Related Concussions and Brain Injury

Mark MintzPresenter: Mark Mintz, MD
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Concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury that can affect cognitive functioning (mental processes of thinking, reasoning, learning, remembering, problem-solving and creativity) and behavior. Many children and young adults experience significant psychological stress from their injuries. Dr. Mintz will discuss interventions for concussions, the risks of recurrent concussions, and how to help individuals who are suffering from residual problems from concussions to maximize their functioning in the home, school, work, and community environments.

Comments(10)

  1. SallyG says

    What is your opinion of nerve blockers to treat post-concussive headaches?

    • DrMintz says

      First and foremost is to determine the type and cause of the headaches. Prior to nerve blocks, there are a number of other possible therapies that can be effective. As far as post-concussive headaches that are not responsive to various forms of symptomatic and prophylactic therapies, Botox is likely a more effective therapy. Prior to utilizing nerve blocks, I would suggest an evaluation by a headache specialist.

  2. NJCTS says

    Why restrict sleep?

    • DrMintz says

      I would not restrict sleep, but rather be sure someone is getting enough sleep, and that sleep patterns are regular and adequate.

  3. NJCTS says

    Do concussions affect those with Tourette Syndrome more than those who do not have it? If so, how?

    • DrMintz says

      I am not aware of any direct link or study to that effect, although I might not be aware of such an association. If there are any associated behaviors causing high risk behaviors, then such behaviors might predispose to concussion events, but the severity of the individual concussion will more likely be a result of the type and direction of the forces involved.

  4. NJCTS says

    Is there any evidence that kids playing sports at a young age can become more susceptible to concussion than a child that begins as an early teen or older?

    • DrMintz says

      Recurrent concussions will cause a higher susceptibility to additional concussions. So, playing sports for a longer time period will provide more opportunities for a concussion to occur. If no concussions occur, then it should not create any increased risk later on. There is the study I cited of college football players, where they found smaller hippocampal brain volumes after their collegiate career, distributed equally among those who had documented concussions, and those who did not, implying that just playing college football might increase the risk of brain injury. However, young children often are not involved in high velocity collision sports, but it would be prudent to involve them in sports that do not involve head contact or risks of concussion. There are many benefits of sports to aspects of physical, mental and social development, so sport participation should be encouraged. But, in young children, we should use common sense. So, for example, I would not recommend a young child participate in boxing, or full-contact mixed martial arts.

  5. NJCTS says

    You said concussions can evolve over time. How much time do you mean by “over time” particularly if the individual had none of the early symptoms you discussed.

    • DrMintz says

      There is no direct answer to this, as it depends on a wide array of factors and findings, and needs to be individualized.

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