DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DIAGNOSIS OF CONCUSSION IN SPORT: WHERE ARE WE HEADING?

DEVELOPMENTS IN THE DIAGNOSIS

FEATURE / DR PATRICK O’HALLORAN

Concussion is a common medical problem encountered not just in the athletic population but also in the general public with approximately 1.4 million cases of traumatic brain injury (of which, sport related concussion forms part of the mild end of the spectrum) attending hospital per year in the UK.

Although some estimations suggest that concussion occurs in soccer at a rate of one per team, per season, the incidence of head impact events with the potential to cause concussion is higher, occurring about once every other match. Therefore, the ability to diagnose or rule out concussion is something in which medical staff working in soccer must be very skilled.

The diagnosis of concussion can, however, cause headaches for both players and medical staff alike. Concussion itself results in symptoms which may be subjective, vague and which could be attributed to other conditions like dehydration, fatigue, migraine etc. In addition, symptoms may take time to develop meaning players may initially not be able to recognize or describe them accurately. For medical staff, they may have to make a decision in a short period of time, with limited information and while being watched by a global audience. Factors such as language barriers and the risk inherent in both under or over diagnosing are also important.

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