Concussion: a detailed overview from impact to recovery and discussion of related sequelae
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A concussion is the transient alteration of consciousness immediately following application, either direct or indirect, of traumatic biomechanical forces to the head. It is a widespread and likely underreported disorder affecting millions of people in the US every year. In the past, concussions have often been trivialized by coaches, trainers, parents, and athletes as “bumps to the head” rather than truly serious injuries. Now, however, mounting evidence of the severe long-term consequences of concussion is stimulating public interest in the issue. This has spurred research in recent years and our understanding of the injury construct of concussion has advanced accordingly, although several areas of uncertainty remain regarding the potential future consequences of single or multiple concussions. A greater understanding of the underlying mechanisms of concussion in humans may help ameliorate the negative conditions of those millions suffering from concussion and its sequelae. This paper details this complex disorder from impact to recovery, including underlying physiological mechanisms, and discusses its potential long- term consequences. The need for advancement in concussion prevention strategies is discussed as a primary goal for the future. Education, institution of new guidelines and legislation concerning youth sports, advances in equipment, and rule/policy changes in professional sports are discussed as potential areas for improvement. However, action in these areas will not solve the problem on its own. An overall cultural shift needs to occur in order to emphasize the severity of concussions in general. Additionally, support and early recognition of long-term sequelae of repeat concussion would be helpful in limiting the number of negative outcomes in concussion patients.
Thesis (M.A.)--Boston University