K50 -- December 2010 -- Concussion Recovery
Intro: This season the news has been filled with stories about the dangers of concussions in sports like high school football. Doctors at Mayo Clinic say that pulling kids off the field until they have completely recovered is key to keeping them healthy. But some players who've suffered concussions choose not to get back in the game. They don't want to risk possible consequences of repeat and serious head injury.
I got blindsided and blacked out. When I woke up I was getting off the ground.
That was the first severe concussion high school football star Alex Needham suffered.
Blacked out for a second and when I got back up, I was confused but didn't really say anything.
You have any dizziness today?
Today Alex is getting screened by Mayo Clinic sports medicine specialist Chad Eickhoff to find out if his symptoms — dizziness, nausea, confusion, headaches, difficulty remembering things — are gone, to see if he's healthy enough to get back to sports.
What we want to prevent is some of the devastating consequences that can occur when you return to exertional activity too soon after a concussion.
Dr. Edward Laskowski says getting back in the game too soon is not good. And it's not just getting hit in the head again that's the problem. If you have any remaining symptoms left over from a concussion, and do any type of exertion, you put yourself at risk of a condition called second impact syndrome.
In second impact syndrome there is just an inordinate amount of swelling of the brain. The brain is too big for its containment. This swelling causes damage as the brain tissue is injured, and this damage can actually lead to death or paralysis.
Even just jogging onto the field can cause it. So Alex was prescribed total brain rest.
I just had to go home and sit. Couldn't watch intense things on TV. Couldn't text message or play video games — anything that got my brain going. So it was lying down and sleeping pretty much for two weeks.
Now that he's recovered, Alex, who was captain of the football team, spends his free time learning to be a mechanic instead of on the gridiron. His concussions make him susceptible to more concussions, and possibly permanent damage. Because of that and the fact that he now suffers frequent headaches, Alex stopped playing the game he loves.
I mean, life still goes on after high school football.
For Medical Edge, I'm Vivien Williams.
After Alex's first concussion he did get back in the game. But the process was slow. After screening showed he had recovered, the Mayo sports medicine team put him on a five-day re-entry plan. Walking the first day, jogging the second, sprinting the third, pads and helmets the fourth, and full contact the fifth. The slow return is key to making sure players are healthy.
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