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Scientific research reveals problem more serious than once thought
A disturbingly common sight during football games is seeing a player shaken up after impact to the head. Research continues to reveal more adverse long-term effects of concussions and traumatic brain injuries, prompting sports organizations such as the NFL to take more precautions with any sort of head injury.

When kids play sports — especially contact sports like football and soccer — they are at increased risk for concussions.
Concussions have traditionally been associated with high-impact sports like football, and even in this setting, knocks on the head that don’t seem serious have often been brushed off. However, it’s becoming more common to see young athletes of all types being pulled off the field or court for possible concussions.
Adam Breiner, ND, says there’s a very good reason for increased caution.
“The more scientists learn about concussions or traumatic brain injury (TBI), the more adverse long-term effects they discover — including permanent neurologic disability,” said Dr. Breiner, who practices family medicine at The NeuroEdge Brain Performance Center in Fairfield, Conn. He specializes in the treatment of neurological conditions.
“In the past, we’ve looked to experienced parents and coaches to render a preliminary diagnosis when an athlete suffers a blow to the head, but given the seriousness of untreated TBI, head injuries can’t be handled that way anymore,” Dr. Breiner said. “If a possible concussion is even suspected, it’s important to seek a doctor’s diagnosis.”
It’s estimated 1-in-5 high school athletes will experience a concussion during the playing season, according to Dr. Breiner. He shares things parents, teachers, and coaches need to know about concussions to protect players.
Concussions and TBI do real damage to the brain. Concussions and TBI occur when the brain suddenly shifts within the skull—usually as the result of a sudden blow, jolt, or change of direction. A football tackle, being hit with a baseball or softball, heading a soccer ball, or tripping and falling are just a few of the athletic scenarios that can result in TBI.
Because children’s brains are still growing, they are especially vulnerable to concussions. The damage caused by TBI can impair normal development. Potential long-term effects of childhood concussions include abnormal brain activity that lasts for years, memory problems, attention deficits, difficulty handling anger, language impairment, personality changes, difficulty making decisions, foggy thinking, and more.
Multiple concussions are especially dangerous. If a child is concussed a second time while a previous brain injury is still healing, she may experience more serious symptoms, a longer recovery time, and even permanent cognitive and neurological damage. Since TBI is not a visible injury, multiple concussions are a major concern—especially for young athletes.
“Many children return to sports or other risky activities before they have fully healed,” Dr. Breiner comments. “Once again, it’s crucial for parents and coaches to fully follow doctor’s advice and to err on the side of caution.”
The signs of concussion can range from mild to severe. The immediate effects of a concussion can be subtle or very noticeable. Some of the most common post-concussive symptoms include headache, visual blurring, light sensitivity, difficulty concentrating, dizziness and balance problems, nausea, memory dysfunction, and fatigue. When in doubt, it’s always smart to get your child checked out after a blow to the head.
“Brain health isn’t something most people think about on a regular basis. We tend to simply assume that our brains will always be there, doing their jobs,” Dr. Breiner said. “But the truth is, the brain is just as vulnerable to injury as other parts of the body. And in fact, TBI can have more serious, longer-lasting effects than, say, a typical broken arm or leg. Please, don’t assume that concussions are normal or that they won’t happen to your child. The more you know, the better equipped you’ll be to prevent and recognize concussions, and to seek proper treatment if one occurs.”