Concussions Can Happen To Any Athlete

What happens when an athlete has a concussion? Watch our recent Medicine of the Games segment to learn more from David Brody, MD, PhD, a Washington University neurologist at Barnes-Jewish Hospital.

Put simply, there are little tears in the wiring of the axons, which connect one part of the brain to another. There are also changes in blood flow and some changes in the electrical function of the brain.

Every sport has a risk of concussion, even some unusual sports like trampolining and diving. There has been a lot of interest in concussive injuries in soccer and what the rules about return to play are. According to Dr. Brody, “The sports that worry me the most as a physician are the martial arts. Boxing is the biggest one.” However, Olympic boxing is quite different from professional boxing in the sense that the athletes wear head gear and there are a lot of rules in place to prevent concussive knockouts. Unfortunately, every knockout is a concussion.

Interestingly, the biggest risk of concussion to an athlete is in equestrian sports, which has the highest risk of concussion per hour played. It’s a sport we may not watch every day, but it’s a big part of the summer games.

A common question around concussions is “What is the cost to an athlete who suffers a concussion?” Dr. Brody says, “Most athletes who suffer a concussion make a very, very good recovery and there are no serious consequences with regard to their long-term Olympic careers. The problem is when people have multiple concussions. When they have three, four, five or even 10 concussions during their careers.”

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Category: Neurology & Neurosurgery

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Barnes-Jewish Hospital at Washington University Medical Center is the largest hospital in Missouri and the largest private employer in the St. Louis region. An affiliated teaching hospital of Washington University School of Medicine, Barnes-Jewish Hospital has a 1,800 member medical staff with many who are recognized as "Best Doctors in America." They are supported by residents, interns and fellows, in addition to nurses, technicians and other health-care professionals.

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