Why did this silent 84% not seek help? The most common reasons were players assuming it was depression or being too embarrassed to mention the symptoms. Keep this in mind when assessing patients: start by asking, “Have you ever experienced involuntary episodes of crying and/or laughing that were exaggerated or even contrary to how you felt at the time?”

What Does This Mean for Concussions?

In the past, sports-related head injury did not receive much attention in the neurology field. Now, neurologists should step to the forefront when it comes to evaluating and managing these individuals, a majority of whom do not have access to basic neurological care. Of course, support is also needed from the American Academy of Neurology and subspecialty organizations.

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The neurology community also needs to take the lead on research, especially longitudinal studies looking at symptom definition and progression, neuro-pathological characteristics, advanced neuroimaging and other biomarkers, as well as evidence-based treatment options.

Francis X. Conidi, MD, is Assistant Clinical Professor of Neurology, Florida State University College of Medicine and Director of the Florida Center for Headache and Sports Neurology. Dr Conidi is the team neurologist for the NHL Florida Panthers. Dr Conidi is the immediate Vice Chair of the American Academy of Neurology (AAN) Sports Neurology Section and co-author of the AAN’s position statement on concussion in sports. He is co-chair of the Florida High School Athletic Association Concussion Committee, serves as a consultant for the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Radiological and Diagnostic Device Division for Sports Concussion and TBI, and is president elect of the Florida Society of Neurology.

References

1. Omalu BI, Dekosky ST, Minster RL, Kamboh MI, Hamilton RL, Wecht CH. Chronic traumatic encephalopathy in a National Football League player. Neurosurgery. 2005;57(1):128-34.

2. Weir DR, Jackson JS, Sonnega A. National Football League Player Care Foundation Study of Retired NFL Players. Institute for Social Research, University of Michigan. 2009. 

3. Press Release: “Football Hall-of-Famer Barry Sanders Tackles Pseudobulbar Affect, A Little-known But Prevalent Condition Caused by Brain Injury, in New Educational Campaign.” https://www.pbainfo.org/sites/default/files/PBA_Press_release.pdf.

This article originally appeared on Neurology Advisor