Concussions & CTE: Here's What You Need to Know - Crozer-Keystone Health System - PA

Published on December 09, 2015

Concussions & CTE: Here's What You Need to Know

Crozer-Keystone Health SystemMedia Contact:
Grant Gegwich
(610) 447-6316
Grant.Gegwich@crozer.org

Concussions & CTE: Here's What You Need to Know

Experts believe that CTE is driven more by
repetitive hits and trauma rather
than by a singular event.

The conversation around football, concussions and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) has been growing for several years. Now, the upcoming release of the Will Smith movie “Concussion” and the revelation that the late Frank Gifford had the progressive health condition CTE have heightened awareness… and fear.

CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain thought to be caused by repetitive brain trauma, including concussions.

CTE has been known to affect boxers since the 1920s, but recent reports have confirmed CTE in retired professional football players and other athletes with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including hockey players and wrestlers.

Repetitive head trauma triggers progressive degeneration of brain tissue that can begin months, years or even decades after the last brain trauma or end of active involvement in sports. This brain degeneration is associated with confusion, memory loss, impaired judgement, aggression, impulse control problems and, eventually, progressive dementia.

It’s a scary condition. And although it seems more prominent due to being in the news recently, it’s an incredibly rare condition. If you’ve had one, two or more concussions, you most likely don’t have to worry about CTE – experts believe that the condition is driven more by repetitive hits and trauma rather than by a singular event.

But that doesn’t minimize how serious of an injury a concussion is – it’s a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a blow or bump to the head, a fall or another injury that shakes or jars the brain inside the skull.

Your brain consists of soft tissue and is cushioned by spinal fluid, protected by the skull. If you suffer a concussion, the impact can jolt your brain and cause it to move inside the skull, causing bruising, damage to the blood vessels and injury to the brain’s nerves.

Sometimes the difficulty about recognizing the severity of a concussion is the fact that you can’t see it – there aren’t visible signs that you sustained one. But they can have a serious impact on your daily life.

Initially, it can essentially shut down your life. It can make it difficult or near impossible to perform at work or to take care of responsibilities outside of work. When a child sustains a concussion, it can also impact their performance in school and extracurricular activities.

Signs of a Concussion

Since you can’t visibly tell if you or a loved one has suffered a concussion, it’s important to know and recognize the signs. While losing consciousness is an obvious sign, not everyone experiences this when they have a concussion.

Symptoms you may experience include pressure in your head or a headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, issues with balance, double or blurry vision, sensitivity to noise or light, confusion, trouble concentrating or remembering, feeling sluggish or groggy and simply just not feeling right.

Other symptoms include:

  • Slurred speech
  • Answering questions slowly
  • One pupil that’s larger than the other
  • Mood, personality or behavior changes
  • Difficulty recognizing people or places
  • Seizures or convulsions
  • Drowsiness or inability to be woken up
  • Increasing confusion, agitation or restlessness

If you or a loved one experiences these symptoms, seek medical treatment right away.

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