Your Health: The lasting impact of concussions

Published: Apr. 18, 2023 at 5:21 PM EDT
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LANSING, Mich. (WILX) - A fall, a hard hit, an accident - all of these things can cause a concussion.

Symptoms can range from nausea to passing out, but no matter what your symptoms are, you should see a doctor. An estimated three million people will suffer a concussion this year.

“We see a lot of concussions that happen on the playground or at recess or in PE class,” said Dr. Erin Reynolds. “We always look out for loss of consciousness, which is actually pretty rare, any stumbling, being off balance, vomiting and then following the first several minutes, we look for headaches, dizziness, nausea, fogginess, any sensitivity to light or noise.”

There are actually 22 symptoms, but only one is required to diagnose a concussion. And in the largest study done to date, researchers have found that just one moderate to severe concussion can have a long-term impact on brain function - including memory.

If you suffer three or more concussions, you are at higher risk for worsened brain function later in life. Participants’ attention spans were impacted, as well as their ability to complete complex tasks.

If you had four or more mild concussions, processing speed and working memory worsened. And each additional reported concussion was linked to progressively worse cognitive function.

“So, we used to think that concussion was a homogeneous injury, meaning a concussion is a concussion, and everyone is the same,” Reynolds said. “We now know the same person may have multiple concussions and they may all look very different.”

Anyone can get a concussion, there’s no blood test or scan to detect it and no medicine to cure it. The only thing that helps is rest.

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