A concussion is a brain injury resulting from trauma to the head or neck. Sports concussion has recently received increased attention nationwide and the Centers for Disease Control estimates that 1.6 to 3.8 million Americans of all ages get a concussion each year during recreational activities and sports like football and soccer. Recovery takes time and medical care.
In the face of this growing problem and in an effort to help people of all ages suffering from concussion, the Care New England Health System has drawn together a team of medical experts to create the region's only Comprehensive Sports Concussion Center. This team works together to treat all aspects of sports concussion.
"Concussions are much more concerning than people once believed. It's a traumatic injury to the brain and it can lead to many problems that can linger for a significant amount of time after the injury," explains Jeffrey Manning, MD, the medical director of Affinity Sports Medicine, a Care New England affiliate.
Regardless of the cause, a concussion temporarily changes how a person's brain cells function. If a concussion is not identified and managed early, it can lead to more serious problems or even reinjury.
"There's no one treatment for concussion because the injury varies from one person to the next," adds David Bica, MD, also of Affinity Sports Medicine. "We treat each person individually, depending on the severity of their injury and how long it lasts."
Patients referred to the Center will initially see a physician with Affinity Sports Medicine, and may be referred to other specialists with the Center, including:
- Pediatric and adult neuropsychologists who understand the relationship between the brain and behavior.
- Neurologists, who specialize in the treatment of injury and diseases of the brain and nervous system.
- Psychologists, who can help patients develop coping strategies for depression, anxiety or pain that may occur after a concussion.
- Speech-language pathologists who can determine the person's ability to communicate effectively. In addition, they can identify if any accommodations are needed for the person's home, work or school. Ongoing cognitive communication therapy can be provided if needed.
- Physical therapists who can create an individualized treatment program based on exercise tolerance testing. The physical therapists can also help patients return to baseline function by treating cervical pain, improving strength and/or vestibular deficits.
Each concussion is different and may include any of the following signs and symptoms:
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling slowed down or mentally "foggy"
- Fatigue or changes in sleep pattern
- Concentration or memory problems
"Many people go untreated for concussion, believing that the symptoms will correct themselves. It is valuable to see a medical professional with training in the treatment of concussion to avoid unnecessary suffering," explains Amity Rubeor, DO, of Affinity Sports Medicine.
Anyone with such symptoms can make an appointment to be seen by experts with the Care New England Comprehensive Sports Concussion Center by calling 844-723-4293. These appointments can be made at offices in East Greenwich or at Memorial Hospital in Pawtucket.