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Non-sports related concussions often go undiagnosed

February 24, 2015


WellSpan can treat all concussions, regardless of type of injury

Sports concussions have garnered countless headlines in the past couple years.  The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates 3.8 million sports or recreational-related concussions occur each year.

The publicity has raised awareness of the dangers of concussions and how common they are.

Much less attention, however, has been paid to adult non-sports related concussions.

“These concussions are often not diagnosed and can delay patient care,” said Ellen Deibert, MD, a neurologist with WellSpan Neurology with an interest in traumatic brain injury.

Concussions are a mild form of traumatic brain injury.  They are very common, even outside of organized sports, and they affect people of all ages.

Falls are the leading cause of adult non-sports related concussions, followed by motor vehicle accidents and assaults.

“Concussions do not have to be the result of a serious accident,” said Deibert.

“When people slip on the ice or fall at work, they often hit their head with speed and momentum.  Many people will just try to ‘shake it off.’”

Deibert emphasized that concussions are serious injuries that often cause cognitive impairment.
She said it’s important for family physicians to go through a concussion checklist, asking four key screening questions.

Is the patient experiencing:

•  short-term memory problems;
•  headaches;
•  mood/sleep disturbances;
•  foggy thinking?

“If a patient’s symptoms are not getting better in two or three weeks, they should be referred to WellSpan Neurology,” added Deibert.

WellSpan Neurology is working with Sports Medicine, family physicians and Employee Health to standardize protocols and streamline the referral process.

“WellSpan’s concussion program has depth and breadth," said Deibert.  “We have added resources, and we can treat all concussions, regardless of mechanism of injury.”

Bessie Perkey, MD, a physiatrist, recently joined WellSpan Neurosciences.  She treats muscular-skeletal issues related to adult non-sports concussions.  These issues are often the result of a motor vehicle accident, in addition to the concussion.

Todd Barron, MD, medical director of WellSpan Neurosciences, added: “Our goal is to get people back to normal and get them back to work.”

To make a referral to WellSpan Neurology, or to make an appointment, call 851-5503.