Why A Concussion Test Is Important
The primary need for a concussion test is obviously to determine if a concussion has occurred, but more importantly such a test is needed to determine the extent of the injury as well as what the immediate follow up should be. Does a person who has suffered a concussion need to be kept in the hospital overnight? Can an athlete who has suffered a concussion safely return to the field of play, or return to practice a few days later?
A concussion test therefore has a two-fold purpose. Although concussions are not generally life threatening, nor are they even considered to be particularly dangerous, it's still important that they be treated accordingly, so it's important there be a concussion test of sorts to as a minimum, verify the condition exists.
Usually a concussion will cause a condition in which the recipient either becomes temporarily dazed or confused, or in more severe cases can be rendered unconscious, sometimes momentarily, and at other times for a prolonged period of time.
How Many Fingers? - When an athlete has possibly suffered a concussion on the field of play, a concussion test may be as simple as asking "What inning is it? - What day is it? - or, How many fingers am I holding up? When a person suffers a concussion, no matter how mild, there will be a loss in reaction time, and a general cloudiness in thinking, so the above questions can prove quite useful, If a person is knocked unconscious from a hit to the head, there is no doubt that a concussion has been suffered, and the purpose of a concussion test would therefore be directed towards determining its severity.
The Possibility Of Dementia - A concussion causes brain damage, at least to the extent that brain cells may be damaged. A real danger lies in the fact that repeated concussions can result in brain cell death and in more extreme instance a gradual degradation in brain function. It's recently be reported in the news that medical studies indicate a person who has received multiple concussions, even only a few, seems to have a greater risk of suffering from dementia in later years.
Medical Tests - In cases of more severe concussions, a concussion test may involve memory and concentration testing, while other tests may focus on balance, coordination and reflexes. Vision and hearing tests will sometime be administered. A test coming into greater use in the sporting arena centers around a simple reaction test, where the affected player may be asked to catch an object that is suddenly thrown or dropped. Reaction time is one of the things a concussion, even a relatively mild one, affects. In more severe cases, a CT scan of the brain may be called for, especially if the patient is having persistent short-term memory problems, has had a seizure, or is elderly.
Late Appearing Symptoms - Once a person is on the road to recovery there is usually no further need for a concussion test, but one may be called for if certain symptoms, such as memory problems, return. In some cases, symptoms do not show up right away, but manifest themselves sometime after the injury has occurred. These symptoms often take the form of personality changes, an onset of headaches, or changes in cognitive behavior, indicating a possible need for additional testing, examination, or monitoring. A concussion is one of those things, which while seldom serious, even if accompanied by scalp lacerations or a slight skull fracture, nevertheless demands careful attention, if for no other reason than to avoid more serious problems down the road.