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Health Spotlight: What you don’t know about concussions

Dr. Erin Reynolds is a Texas-based clinical sports neurophysiologist with Baylor Scott & White Health. (Image from Video Aired on WISH)

INDIANAPOLIS (WISH) — A fall, a hard hit, an accident: All of these things can jar a person’s brain and cause a concussion.

Symptoms can range from nausea to passing out.

No matter what symptoms are experienced, the person should see a doctor, but 5 in 10 concussions go underreported or even undetected. More than 3 million people are expected to suffer concussions this year.

Dr. Erin Reynolds, a Texas-based clinical sports neurophysiologist with Baylor Scott & White Health, said, “We see a lot of concussions that happen on the playground or at recess or in PE class.”

What are the common signs of a concussion?

“We always look out for loss of consciousness, which is actually pretty rare, any stumbling, being off balance, vomiting, and then following the first several minutes, we look for headaches, dizziness, nausea, fogginess, any sensitivity to light or noise.”

There are actually 22 symptoms, but only one is required to diagnose a concussion.

In the largest study done to date, researchers have found that just one moderate to severe concussion can have a long-term impact on brain function, including memory.

Anyone who has suffered three or more concussions is said to be at higher risk for worsened brain function later in life.

In particular, study participants’ attention spans were impacted, as well as their ability to complete complex tasks.

Anyone who has suffered four or more mild concussions saw processing speed and working memory worsened.

Each additional reported concussion was linked to progressively worse cognitive function.

“So, we used to think that concussion was homogeneous injury, meaning a concussion is a concussion, everyone is the same. We now know the same person may have multiple concussions and they may all look very different.”

What researchers do know is that anyone can get concussions. There’s no blood test or scan to detect it, and no medicine to cure it. The only things that help: mental and physical rest.

Now, researchers are looking into subconcussions. They’re caused by an impact to the head that doesn’t show obvious symptoms. New research suggests that these subconcussions can cause long-term effects such as memory problems and depression. They are most often seen in football, soccer, car crashes, and assaults.

This article was created from a script aired on WISH-TV.