Although an alliance between the National Institutes of Health and the National Football League (NFL) seems an unlikely coalition, the two organizations are teaming up to expand research on the long term consequences of concussions and repeated head injuries and to improve diagnosis of such injuries.
Funding for the research will come from a donation by the NFL to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health in the amount of $30 million; the research will also attempt to develop definitive criteria of delineating the various stages of a disease called chronic traumatic encephalopathy, a debilitating condition suffered by some who have experienced repeated concussions.
The dynamics of concussion and non-concussive head injury are largely shrouded in mystery. In October of this year, the Institute of Medicine issued a report stating that despite a greater awareness of the potential dangers of repeated concussions, there’s much confusion about symptomatology, treatment and the danger of repeated head injuries in youth across the nation.
Here are some common myths about concussions:
- A head injury must render you unconscious in order to be classified as a concussion. Not so. According to the American Academy of Family Physicians, most patients are NOT knocked out when they are injured.
- The only symptoms of concussion are headache and severe vomiting. Along with headache and vomiting, there are a number of symptoms that can be associated with a concussion, such as a stiff neck, unexplained sleepiness, and seizures or convulsions.
- The best way to treat the symptoms associated with a concussion is to take ibuprofen or aspirin because they are anti-inflammatory. While it is true that aspirin and ibuprofen reduce inflammation, most physicians don’t recommend taking them for a concussion because they increase bleeding risk. Bed rest and Tylenol are typically what the doctor orders.
- Only head injuries resulting in concussion are dangerous and have a cumulative effect. Recent research shows that in fact, repeated head injuries of all kinds are high risk.