Well, OK, some mention of treatment, if you define that as following one of the myriad “concussion protocols” – rest or don’t rest, exercise or don’t exercise, treat the headaches, take cognitive tests, get check-ups, get neuroimaging and other testing to help “see” and measure the damage, tell your doctors and trainers how you feel, wait, watch, hope. And when you seem healthy, go back on the field. But that’s all about “recovery time,” and not about healing the underlying brain damage.
In answer to the recovery time question, Michael McCrea, director of brain injury research at the Medical College of Wisconsin and a principal investigator in the NCAA-Department of Defense CARE Consortium study puts it best. He says, “I’m confident that the science will inform that question, but it doesn’t yet.”
According to the NCAA news release, “the researchers hope the study lays the groundwork for a decades long examination (italics added) of the long-term effects of concussion and exposure to contact.”
Here is the problem: Concussions can be effectively treated and brains healed NOW. We don’t need more statistics on kids getting their brains damaged or the amazing intricacies of the neurological, vascular, inflammatory and damage triggered by concussion to TREAT the injured brain. There is no question that research and clinical experience have proved that HBOT treats brain injury.
What have they learned so far?
The CARE study indicates that NCAA football players are on average returning to play about 14 days after a brain injury. Sixteen years ago that number was more like six days. We can all take some satisfaction in that, although there is still no indication that the brain has healed. The real benefit is that there is less chance of a second concussion while the brain is still damaged.
Also thanks to Dr. McCrea and the other CARE researchers we now know (preliminarily) that if you leave the game immediately after a concussion, you are likely to return to play quicker. They don’t conclude that your brain has healed, but to conjecture that you and your team will benefit because you’re back in the game sooner and gain a “competitive advantage.”
Another finding suggests that there may be cumulative effects of multiple “low-intensity hits” (which they do not refer to a concussions). They say that this needs more research although a large percentage of former NFL players with brain damage were linemen who rarely experienced outright concussion. The US Army is concerned that there is a cumulative effect on warfighters of thousands of rounds of gunfire next to their heads. This is not a new idea, but obviously is rich territory for more research(ers).
Not too surprisingly, they believe that two-thirds of concussions occur in practice, which seems reasonable since that’s where they spend most of their time! They suggest that we may need better practice guidelines.
Learn more about Head Injury and Concussions