The truth about concussions

Published 4:25 pm Friday, November 11, 2011

“The doctors told me to get as much rest as I could, so I basically spent two days laying on a couch with the lights off. I couldn’t read or watch TV or anything,” Tyler Minyard said. “It was pretty boring.”

Tyler’s scenario is an all-too-common occurrence during the school year, said Dr. Ann Lebek, a physician at Alabaster’s Lemak Sports Medicine and Athletics who staffs Chelsea High School football games every Friday night in the fall.

In the past, many athletic trainers, coaches and parents defined a concussion as any blow to the head resulting in a loss of consciousness, Lebek said. However, doctors now know any concussion resulting in a loss of consciousness is potentially a “very serious” injury.

“The medical definition of a concussion is actually pretty complex,” Lebek said. “But basically a concussion occurs whenever a blow propels any force up to the brain.

“In the past, if a guy went down, he had a concussion,” Lebek said. “But today, if someone gets hit and they get up with a dazed look, we try to look for the subtle signs of a concussion.”

According to the most recent definition of a concussion, which was drafted during the third-annual International Conference on Concussion in Sport in 2008, the injury typically results in the “rapid onset of short-lived impairment of neurologic function,” and rarely results in any “structural damage” to the brain or skull.

Because Lebek said concussions routinely occur in nearly every sport at every age level, she said doctors typically go to great lengths to check out anyone who displays concussion symptoms.