A recent University of Pittsburgh Medical Center study on high school athletes who had a sports related concussion shows a significant relationship between recovery time for those who treated it right away and those who returned to the playing fields. More importantly the study also addressed the long-range impact of concussions for those who remained untreated.

As a doctor who has treated hundreds of San Antonio students with concussions, I knew there was a significant relationship for athletes who sat out competition versus those who didn’t want to rest from their injuries.   Now, the Pittsburgh research has given scientific evidence of the relationship between athletes who fully rested their bodies and those who continued to compete.

UPMC, the medical facility that was featured in the movie “Concussion,” has long served as the leader in research on the neurological impact of sports injuries to the head.   In this research, the hospital studied 69 players who played hockey, volleyball, soccer, basketball and football.  Half of the group were held out of competition, while the other half continued to play in their sports.   Students who didn’t compete took 22 days to recover, while the others took 44 days.

“ Being or not being removed from play carried a lot more variance than any of those other variables.,” said Mike Collins, the director of the study in an interview with the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

“Athletes wouldn’t run a marathon on a sprained ankle or throw a football with a broken arm, yet they often downplay concussion symptoms to return to competition. In the heat of a game they might not even recognize the injury, so it’s important that clinicians be on hand to identify the symptoms and remove players, he added.

Last year, the Center For Disease Control reported estimates of more than 3.8 million concussions with 1.6 million of them as sports related.   Most of these injuries will happen to people who did not get a concussion baseline test before their injuries.

A concussion baseline test enables medical professionals like me to look at a patient’s cognitive skills before an accident and to see the impact of a concussion.  This baseline test helps medical professionals like me to prescribe the proper amount of rest and medical care needed for each injury.

If you are a parent with a son or daughter who competes in contact sports, it’s time to get a concussion baseline test.  If you play competitive contact sports as a young adult such as soccer, flag football or ride a bike or motorcycle, it’s a good idea to get this exam.

If you live in south Texas, my clinic will provide a complimentary one at one of our seven locations to anyone who calls us at 210-899-7920.   If you reside outside of San Antonio, I would contact your doctor to ask him or her how to schedule an ImPACT test.

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