Marisara Dieppa, M.D. Answers Questions On: Concussion Symptoms
What are some of the symptoms of a concussion?
The immediate symptoms often include loss of consciousness, confusion, nausea, headache, fatigue, and slurred speech. Over time, the patient may experience cognitive problems, balance issues, chronic headaches, mood disorders, and insomnia. Concussions can lead to many different problems.
What do you think is most important for people to understand about concussion?
Concussion is a serious condition that can have serious consequences. Today we know that concussions can occur not only in traditional contact sports, like football and soccer, but also basketball, hockey, boxing, and even cheerleading. And the symptoms can have a debilitating effect on a patient’s health for years.
My background in sports helps me understand the psychology of an athlete – the motivations, pressures, and stressors. In general, we should take sports-related head injuries more seriously. In fact, some patients develop post-traumatic epilepsy, which can be the result of a traumatic brain injury during sports, a fall, a car accident, or a similar incident.
We use a multidisciplinary approach to treating concussion that may include medication, neuropsychology, speech and physical therapy, physiatry, vestibular and cognitive therapy, and more.
Is new research helping to improve our understanding of concussion symptoms?
Yes, all the time. The recent increase in scrutiny of concussions and other sports-related injuries has also helped to accelerate research in this area. As a result, we are becoming better equipped to recognize the symptoms of concussions and to quickly diagnose and treat them.
This is especially true in imaging and clinical research. For example, researchers are studying new MRI technology, specifically looking at how it can enable physicians to detect concussions that may not show up in a regular MRI scan. They are also exploring biomarkers, which are unique signs of a condition or disease. Identifying the biomarkers for concussion will help us to recognize concussions with a higher specificity.
UT Southwestern is part of a nationwide concussion registry. We are enrolling patients to monitor key data and following them from before an injury to after. We are also currently recruiting for a study on the benefits of exercise during recovery from a traumatic brain injury, which also stands to benefit concussion patients.