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Impact Urgent Care Medical Director Weighs in on Sports Concussions

San Antonio, TX (PRWEB) October 22, 2013

Many parents remember back to their high school sports days and the way that concussions were “treated.” People would laugh that a player got his “bell rung,” his coach or trainer would tell him to “shake it off,” and then he’d head back onto the field. But in the past several decades, much has been learned about the real dangers of concussions – not only with regard to short-term health problems, but potentially to medical issues for the rest of a patient’s life.

“Many parents ask why concussions are a bigger deal today than when they were playing sports,” said Dr. Evan Ratner, an emergency room-trained physician and medical director at Impact Urgent Care. “Unfortunately, what we didn’t know ‘back in the day’ left many athletes with lifelong complications. Just look at the body of evidence from many former NFL players who say they have struggled with headaches, memory loss, and other lasting effects from concussions they suffered decades ago.”

Football players aren’t the only ones at risk, of course. Soccer, hockey, basketball and cheerleading are among the sports at the top of the list.

When a player suffers a concussion, he has suffered a brain injury: his brain has been bruised by a severe impact that caused the brain to hit back and forth against the skull – like a punching bag against a boxer’s glove.

Unlike fractures and other physical injuries, though, concussions can be missed, because they are in some ways invisible. They cannot be diagnosed simply with a CAT scan or X-ray or MRI. Instead, a concussion must be diagnosed through a combination of response/reaction tests and a physical examination. Until a few years ago, these tests were not available. In recent years, however, they have proven to be invaluable in the diagnosis and treatment of athletes of all ages and levels.

That is why many schools and teams now require high school and college athletes – boys and girls - to undergo a baseline concussion test before they ever step foot on a field or court. The IMPACT Concussion baseline test is essentially a computer test that gauges a player’s memory, response time, and other cognitive skills.

Should that athlete get injured, a trained physician can compare the baseline test to a repeat test following the injury – this is one important piece of the overall data to assess how severe the brain injury is. Depending on the results and the symptoms, there are a number of treatments the doctor can recommend.

Concussions are no longer categorized as severe or mild. Each concussion is unique and may have different symptoms and different healing times.

“It was not that long ago when concussion treatment was mostly a waiting game, but the latest studies have identified medications and therapies that can dramatically change the severity and duration of concussion symptoms,” explains Dr. Ratner.

While many schools have the software to conduct baseline tests, Dr. Ratner says the results are useless unless they are read by a physician or neurophysiologist specialist trained in concussion management.

“Studies have shown how inconsistent concussion management can be when directed by physicians or other providers who are not up to date on the latest treatment algorithms. These same studies have also demonstrated the importance of proper concussion evaluation and management.”

In addition to the baseline test, Dr. Ratner says there are some preventative steps athletes can take to avoid an injury.

“Even the best helmet cannot prevent all concussions, but the right helmet, and sport-specific protective head gear can help. Neck strengthening may also help to reduce the incidence of concussions,” Ratner says.

Because most athletes would rather be on the court or field than off, parents should be aware that simply asking an athlete how they are feeling isn’t the answer.

Dr. Ratner states, “Computerized neurocognitive baseline and post injury testing represents the best way to diagnose a concussion, and later determine when it is safe to return to play. It is essential to work with experienced physicians and providers to educate the patient, the family, the coach, and the school as to what to expect, and do the best for the injured athlete.”

About the company:

Impact Urgent Care’s unique approach to urgent medical and emergency care pulls from extensive emergency room experience at some of the best hospitals in Texas, combined with extensive family practice experience. Treating both adults and children for urgent medical services such as minor emergencies and illnesses, asthma treatment, headache treatment, school and sports physicals, flu shots, drug screening and more, Impact Urgent Care also offers concussion tests and therapy. The walk in clinic is located at Huebner Road, near Bitters and FM 78 and Woodlake, hours are 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. daily. Visit their website at

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