Long-term risk of concussion more serious than previously thought
Health care providers previously viewed a bump to the head sustained during tackle football, a minor car accident, a run-in with a doorframe or falling down the stairs as a temporary injury, and something the patient could overcome with ice and rest. However, a growing body of evidence suggests that concussions — even minor ones — can have significant long-term consequences on a person’s future health.
According to the University of Utah, the long-term effects of a concussion are those that persist more than six weeks after the causing incident. Those effects include but are not limited to memory problems, trouble concentrating, personality and behavioral changes, sleep disturbances, sensitivity to noise and light, taste and smell disorders, depression and other psychological problems. Health care providers refer to persistent concussion symptoms as post-concussion syndrome.
Though the University of Utah says that post-concussion syndrome is rare and that only about 20% of people may develop it, the University of California San Francisco begs to differ. According to UCSF, a growing body of evidence suggests that concussion can have severe, long-lasting consequences.
Such consequences do not just include trouble concentrating and sensitivity to outside stimuli, either. A study of over 300,000 concussion patients reveal that a concussion sustained early in life can increase a person’s risk for Parkinson’s and dementia later in life. Through the study, researchers also found that even a single mild concussion was associated with both diseases. What is even more alarming is that even concussions that do not show up on an MRI or CT scan can increase a person’s risk for developing neurological problems in the future.