ST. PAUL, Minn. (FOX 9) - Youth sports season is about to kick into overdrive and before your young one steps up to the plate or hits the soccer field, it's important to be aware of possible brain injuries.
That's why in front of a room of curious minds Thursday, Dr. Ashley Strobel, an emergency medicine physician at Hennepin Healthcare, explained the importance of looking for physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms when trying to identify a traumatic brain injury.
The talk was hosted by Hennepin Healthcare which admits more than 1,000 traumatic brain injury patients every year. More than any other hospital in Minnesota.
“Things like headache, nausea or vomiting, dizziness, balance issues. Cognitively there may be this slow processing speed, trouble with attention, concentration, difficulty completing tasks, or difficulty with organization. There may be mood swings, there may be depression irritability, frustration, maybe some more labile moods with very kind of impulsive type behavior,” explained Dr. Strobel of the warning signs.
With spring in full bloom, little league season and other common scenarios where concussions happen, are also in full swing.
“Bicycle accidents are very common in the Twin Cities, in the winter here we’ve had sledding, skiing, sporting events are not uncommon at all - in fact they make up the majority of kiddos that present 10 to 19 years old,” said Dr. Strobel.
Falls and motor vehicle crashes, however, are the leading traumatic brain injury causes.
“The recovery varies so widely,” said Dr. Strobel.
That's why after a hit to the head, Dr. Min Joeng Park Graf, Medical Director of the TBI Outpatient Program says anyone with symptoms for more than 10 days needs to see an expert. Especially because brain injury symptoms, including vision problems, can either present immediately or over a period days.
“They may not notice until they’re back to school or work so it’s important to monitor those things,” Dr. Graf told FOX 9.
“Folks really need to listen to their friends and their family, who may be the first to recognize some of these symptoms and seek care from a traumatic brain injury clinic, because you will feel like you’re not yourself at work or feel like it takes longer to hit your goals if you don’t get help,” said Dr. Strobel.
While 85 percent of people who suffer a brain injury fully recover. The rest may never return to their former selves.
“It really does affect every part of your life - that really is the goals of recovery is to get you back to where you were in all aspects of your life, not just your sport, not just work.” said Dr. Strobel.
The chances of meeting those goals are higher, the sooner those hurt get proper treatment.
“It could for some people be a few days, it could for others be months, so it really does vary,” Dr. Strobel assured.
Dr. Graf suggests patients suffering a concussion or other traumatic brain injury who experience symptoms for more than four weeks should seek more specialized care.
To learn more about Hennepin Healthcare’s Traumatic Brain Injury Outpatient Program click here.