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Madison, Wis. – High profile cases involving athletes, battlefield injuries and new research have brought concussion to the forefront for medical professionals and the general public, according to a review article in the current issue of WMJ (vol. 111, no. 1). The article provides physicians with a review of the current state of concussion medicine and includes recommendations for management and strategies to minimize the risk of complications.
The authors acknowledge that public awareness, professional understanding and several initiatives (including proposed state legislation supported by the Wisconsin Medical Society) have reduced the risk of concussion; however, there is still significant progress to be made.
“It is estimated that 1.6 million to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur annually,” according to the article by two physicians at the University of Wisconsin School of Medicine and Public Health. “The incidence is difficult to measure due to the difficulty in diagnosis, lack of public awareness and athletes frequently underreporting symptoms with the goal of returning to play.”
In addition to a clinical evaluation following head injury, neuropsychological testing can be used to assist physicians and other medical personnel in determining whether an athlete should return to competitive play. The ImPACT (Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) battery has been validated extensively and is used commonly. “The value of neuropsychological testing lies in its ability to detect patients who are asymptomatic following a concussion but still are suffering from lingering neurocognitive effects of the injury,” the authors said.
Complications of concussion, though rare, are potentially serious. For example, second-impact syndrome may have devastating consequences such as significant morbidity and even death, according to the article. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), which manifests years or decades after the inciting head injury(ies), is another potential complication of concussion.
Published by the Wisconsin Medical Society, WMJ is devoted to the interests of the medical profession and health care in the Midwest. The peer-reviewed publication, which is available in print and electronic format, is one of the few state medical society-sponsored medical journals that publish a large amount of original research and academic content.
With nearly 12,500 members dedicated to the best interests of their patients, the Society is the largest association of medical doctors in the state and has been a trusted source for health policy leadership since 1841. For details, visit www.wisconsinmedicalsociety.org.