Getting Your Bell Rung

Concussion symptoms and treatments that examine neurological function

(RxWiki News) With football season in full swing, it's time to get reacquainted with concussions: what to expect, how to treat and when to return to action.

A recent dailyRx interview with Kevin Crutchfield, M.D., a vascular neurologist at the Comprehensive Sports Concussion Program of the LifeBridge Brain & Spine Institute, was informative about symptoms, dangers and treatments for concussions.

"Take concussions seriously and seek treatment from a neurologist."

Dr. Crutchfield reports that concussions are in the same family as traumatic brain injuries and should be approached quite seriously. Simply wearing a helmet while playing sports isn't protected against all types of blows to the head.

Dr. Crutchfield explains that helmets are used to prevent skull fractures and do not protect against concussions. If a person becomes symptomatic, they should immediately seek medical treatment and care.

Symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Inability to sleep or sleeping too much
  • Concentration problems
  • Irritability or sadness
  • Headaches
  • Balance problems
  • Nervousness
  • More emotional

After taking an exam designed to examine neurological function, brain stem function and eye movement function, therapies may be prescribed to the patient to help minimize symptoms of the concussion including balance problems, vision difficulties and speech differences.

Dr. Crutchfield also reports that sleep is one of the best therapies for his patients who have suffered from a concussion. Those having difficulty sleeping may be prescribed a wide variety of products including over-the-counter melatonin, Benadryl and Ambien. Patients who already have migraines and experience a concussion may be prescribed Topamax, which is a drug used in epileptic patients or the antidepressant Elovid.

Children who receive two concussions in a row are at risk for developing second impact syndrome. This syndrome results in an immediate swelling in the brain that can result in death. Dr. Crutchfield explains the importance of rest and not returning to activities which may cause another concussion.

Only after the symptoms of the concussion are completely gone and neurological testing normalizes is it recommended to resume all physical activities.

Patients who already have a brain difference like depression, bipolar disorder, migraines or ADHD and experience a concussion have, "opened a Pandora's Box," according to Dr. Crutchfield.

Often, these patients symptoms are very difficult to manage and their brain abnormalities are made worse by the concussion. He points out the symptoms of children with ADHD, in particular, are very difficult to manage after a concussion and do not respond as well to Adderrall.

Review Date: 
September 6, 2011