Article Date: 6/1/2012

Getting Your Bell Rung
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Getting Your Bell Rung

A well-deserved wake-up call is being issued on the seriousness of concussions.

From the Executive Director Jim Thomas

My daughter Hannah intercepted an errant pass at half court and then did exactly as she had practiced hundreds of times: Dribbling the basketball waist high, she ran toward the basket, her eyes focused on the rim. She didn’t notice the defender, also in an all-out sprint, trying to cut off her path to the basket. Within a split second, both girls collided — the larger defender holding her ground while Hannah spun 180° in the air and, leading with her head, hit the padded gym wall and fell to the ground, the receiver of a nastly lesson in physics.

A visit with the trainer and a trip to the ER confirmed our fears that she had broken a bone (her tibia). Later, the orthopedist assured us that with a cast, crutches and rehabilitation, she would be up and running again within 10-to-12 weeks. Less visible than her swollen ankle, but also of concern, was a mild concussion. A few days after the injury occurred, Hannah complained of difficulty in reading.

“The letters look like they’re dancing on the page,” she told her mother and me.

A hot topic at any level

Today, concussion is a headline grabber. The most obvious example is the thousands of former football players who have sued the National Football League, accusing the league of hiding information that linked football-related head trauma to permanent brain injuries.

The attention to head trauma deserves this wider coverage — “concussions can occur in any sport or recreational activity,” according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) website. And, as is often publicized, repeated concussions can cause permanent damage or even death.

Fortunately, most people recover from concussions quickly and fully. And steps are being taken to manage such injuries. For example, many schools now provide neurocognitive testing, used to identify and manage concussions, for student athletes.

Optometry’s role

As primary care providers, O.D.s have established a role in caring for patients who have had concussions, from identifying and treating visual problems related to the injury to providing education and recommending specialists. It’s a topic that deserves greater recognition. Therefore, let me turn the tables and invite you to share with us your role in the management of concussions. E-mail your experiences to james.thomas@springer.com. We’ll share these experiences with our readers in an upcoming issue of OM. OM



Optometric Management, Volume: 47 , Issue: June 2012, page(s): 4