What is concussion screening and why is it important?

Though emergency treatment for concussions is not always necessary, it is always important to care for the injury correctly. Anyone who experiences a concussion needs monitoring in the hours and days afterward, and emergency care if symptoms worsen. Emergency room care will often include a CT scan or MRI to rule out if there is any structural damage or bleeding. This is rarely the case, but should be ruled out. Even if the structure is intact there can be ongoing symptoms due to the stretching and possible tearing of individual neurons, which CT scan or MRIs can’t detect. This is why neurocognitive screening is important to determine if there is a concussion even with the absence of “structural damage.

Concussion screening on a brain with injuries

What is baseline and post-concussion screening?

To better help understand neurocognitive screening, one must understand concussions. Your brain has the consistency of jello and is cushioned from everyday bumps by a fluid, cerebrospinal fluid, inside your skull. A hard hit to your head or neck can cause your brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the inside wall of your skull. Brain injury is caused by sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head. Anything from car accidents, falls, sports injuries to being violently shaken can result in concussion.

Concussions are injuries to the brain that results in temporary loss of normal brain function. Typically caused by a blow to the head, concussions can vary in severity. Symptoms of concussions can also vary based on the individual.

    Brain areas with concussion

     

    Typical symptoms include:

     

    • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
    • Temporary loss of consciousness
    • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
    • Amnesia surrounding traumatic event
    • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
    • Ringing in the ears
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Slurred speech
    • Delated response to questions
    • Appearing dazed
    • Fatigue

    Additional concussion symptoms include:

    • Appearing dazed
    • Listlessness and tiring easily
    • Irritability and crankiness
    • Loss of balance or unsteady when walking
    • Crying excessively
    • Change in eating or sleeping patterns
    • Lack of interest in favorite things

    In some cases, symptoms last longer than six weeks, in which case a post-concussion syndrome is present. If the person is not under the care of someone who is knowledgeable about concussions, at that time such care would be sought.

    Brain concussion with football helmet on

    How can Sadar Psychological Services help?

    Sadar Psychological Services has chosen the XLNTBrain Sport and Cambridge Brain Sciences computer interfaced neurocognitive tests to screen for the presence of concussion. These are sophisticated, well researched tests that compare a person’s results with non-concussed individuals their age to determine if deficiencies are present.

     

    XLNTBrain Sport and Cambridge Brain Sciences Computer

    Baseline testing before a concussion occurs is recommended so if a possible concussion episode happens, there can be a comparison with the individual’s pre-concussion functioning. Baseline and post-concussion comparisons monitor the severity of the concussion and aid in the recovery process. With the addition of a daily symptom checklist, the patient’s symptoms are easily monitored for improvement. A physical and mental five step progressive exertion program incorporates increased exertion and movement to the concussed patient.

    If concussion symptoms return, the exertion progress stops. In this way, the person knows when it is time to return to work, school and sports participation without limitations. Along the way, if a more in depth analysis seems warranted to evaluate the reasons for the ongoing symptoms, a functional EEG evaluation would be considered.

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