The dangers of concussion in the young

HOUSE CALL: The dangers of concussion in the young
Dr. Hunt Batjer serves as chairman, Department of Neurological Surgery, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and Northwestern Memorial Hospital, Chicago.
Posted December 12, 2011 at 9:28 p.m.

SAN ANGELO, Texas — Concussions shouldn’t be taken lightly, particularly in youngsters. Unlike adults, children and adolescents are susceptible to second impact syndrome. Second impact syndrome occurs when a young person suffers a second concussion before fully recovering from the first. It can lead to permanent brain damage or death.

A concussion is caused by a blow to the head that causes the brain, which is suspended in cerebrospinal fluid, to move back and forth and collide with the skull. The “shaking” causes a disruption of the brain’s function. Interestingly, the damage can’t be seen on a CT or an MRI.

For a long time, the medical profession thought that concussion only occurred if a person lost consciousness. Now we know that loss of consciousness occurs in only 10 percent of concussions, so we have to look harder to find the injuries and properly evaluate them.

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