Monday, December 21, 2015

'Concussion' The Movie

I saw an interesting interview on GMA with Dr. Omalu.  His research and p.o.v. are SO important to the future of brain health, worldwide.  This isn't just an issue about the NFL, although that is where a lot of the focus is.  Concussions, and the long term aftermath, isn't just about contact sports, but about head injuries of any kind.

During his interview, Dr. Omalu demonstrated with a balloon in a jar, what happens to the brain itself when it gets rattled around inside the brain.  That isn't normal.  The cerebral spinal fluid is a cushion, but it has its limits.  What is rarely discussed is that the interior of the skull isn't a smooth surface.  It is jagged and rough, which can lead to bruising, tearing and bleeding of the brain.  That can also lead to everything from mild damage to death.  That can also include swelling.  All of this can lead to dramatic life changes or the end of life.

Dr. Richard Ellenbogen, a neurosurgeon, has repeatedly pointed out that this isn't just about football or traditional contact sports.  CTE can result from other activities, like bicycle accidents or any other brain trauma.

This still comes down to the real 'cure' for conditions like CTE and hydrocephalus, is prevention.  Once the damage is done, it is done.  Every case is unique, so while some will have mild impairment, others will have massive life changes, or even death.  The focus on 'cure' after the fact needs to be tempered.  Training first responders is vitally important--as we have seen with those who have been 'in charge' of determining concussion protocols and failing to do their job.  We've seen that on the field in football.  More than once, I've seen the footage of an NFL player 'down' on the field, "out cold" and seen signs (however slight) that the player is having a seizure--not just "out cold".

We've also heard the reports that Freddy Grey (sp) was heard 'banging' in the van while handcuffed.  Chances are pretty good that what the officers heard was Mr. Grey having a seizure and not properly responding to it.  They have no idea what was going on, they simply assumed that it was Mr. Grey's choice.  Seizing isn't the person's choice.  It is electrical misfires in the brain that happen when the brain is assaulted or because of damage.  Treatment does NOT include putting anything in the person's mouth or attempting to stop the seizure, only making sure that the person is on their side and not being injured during the seizure itself.

There are over one hundred types of seizures someone can have.  They can acquire the condition (it isn't a disease) at any time of life, usually because of an brain injury of some type.  Having untrained people around can be worse than doing nothing!

I'm hoping that 'Concussion', the movie, helps to break stereotypes and leads to the general public learning more about the brain and appreciating its unique and priceless part it plays in everyone's life.

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