If your child plays football, hockey or spends a lot of time skiing or snowboarding then you know they are at increased risk of getting concussions. Nancy Naeve Brown met a Sioux Falls 14 year old who took a hit to the head in mid December and is just now getting back to normal. Knowing when concussion patients are ready to return to normal activity now has become a science at Avera.
David Bakke and his mom Barb Smith have been at the doctor's office more times in the last month than David can remember. That's not an exaggeration. David plays recreational hockey with the Sioux Falls Flyers and during a home game on December 17th, 2011 he took a helmet to helmet hit.
David says, "It was the 3rd period of the game against Aberdeen, I came across the blue line and got hit in the head with somebody's head and I don't remember, well I blacked out and I don't remember 4 to 5 hours after the game. I remember looking up and seeing him come at me and my teammates told me I was on the bench answering questions by the coach, but I don't remember it."
The Washington High School Freshman said his whole Christmas vacation is a blur too and he still suffers from headaches and sensitivity to light. The severity of his brain injury surprised everyone, except his Pediatric Sports Medicine Specialist Dr. Sam Schimelpfenig at the main Avera McGreevy Clinic.
David's Mom Barb says, "When David got hit it appeared to be a solid hit but nothing that made me gasp and say oh no this is as serious as it turned out to be."
Dr. Sam Schimelpfenig says, "What was seemingly mild at the time, the fact that we are 5 weeks out and finally getting to the point to be cleared even though it seemed mild the brain certainly felt it as more of a severe injury. It's kind of the reason we are so conservative with concussions these days. We've learned more about them. It takes a lot longer to heal than we used to think."
It used to be somewhat of a guessing game when to send concussion patients back to the ice or field, but that's no longer the case thanks to the computer software program called ImPACT. David took the test at the Avera Sports Institute before he started the hockey season to get a baseline. It involves a computer friendly series of questions and images that tests attention span, memory, and reaction and response times. While recovering Dr. Sam re-tested David several times to see his progress.
Dr. Sam says, "We don't want to get another concussion while symptomatic from the first. We do know that getting another one while still injured is sort of like twisting your ankle while it's already twisted. That second injury tends to be worse that the first. What we are looking for is everything back to normal before we put him in a situation where he could potentially get injured again."
Even through David loves hockey, he probably knows in the back of his head no game is worth long term complications to his beautiful mind.
The Avera team recommends athletes in contact/collision sports get a free baseline ImPACT test. To schedule the computer-based test through the Avera Concussion Program call 605.322.5123 or call Dr. Schimelpfenig at 605.332.2140. You can also visit:
www.AveraNeuro.org or www.AveraSports.org
Common Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
• Appears to be dazed or stunned
• Is confused about assignment
• Forgets plays
• Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
• Moves clumsily
• Answers questions slowly
• Loses consciousness
• Shows behavior or personality change
• Forgets events prior to hit (retrograde Amenesia)
• Forgets events after hit (anterograde Amnesia)
Signs Reported by Athlete
• Balance problems or dizziness
• Double or fuzzy vision
• Sensitivity to light or noise
• Feeling sluggish
• Feeling "foggy"
• Change in sleep pattern
• Concentration or memory problems