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Injuries add up: How brain injuries accumulate

When you get into a car crash or hit your head playing sports, one unfortunate result may be a brain injury. Even minor concussions that result in only minor headaches and disorientation may turn out to be more seriously as time progresses. More serious brain injuries may cause permanent symptoms.

We've all hit our heads on something over the course of our lifetimes. For most of us, we feel just fine within a few minutes or hours. What new research is showing, though, is that injuries to the head add up over time. Repetitive head injuries can lead to long-term conditions that affect the processes of the brain? Multiple concussions over time have been shown to result in functional deficits and long-term neurological issues. Even if the injuries are years apart, there is still a potential for the two to accumulate into more significant injuries.

What is second-impact syndrome?

Second-impact syndrome is a term that describes a person who has suffered a second injury to the head before all the symptoms of the first injury have resolved. For example, if you suffer a moderate concussion and suffer a second concussion just two or three weeks later, you're likely to develop this syndrome.

Second-impact syndrome is particularly common among athletes, like those who play football and other impact-heavy sports. In some cases, the second injury causes edema and herniation, which then has the potential to lead to a person's sudden collapse and death.

How can you make sure you fully recover after a head injury?

To make sure you fully recover, it's a good idea to go through neurological testing. Neurological testing is the only standard for monitoring a person's recovery following a head injury such as a concussion. Interestingly, you cannot rely on symptoms to let you know if you've fully recovered.

In some cases, motor cortex functions and visual motor functions do not recover at the same rate as the cognitive functions. The test, therefore, might show that you've recovered despite still showing signs of other neurological issues.

Suffering from multiple traumatic brain injuries can cause irreparable harm. It is vital that you take the time to go to the hospital and obtain the neurological tests needed to establish a baseline and to track your recovery.

With the right medical care and support, the impact of second or third concussions or brain injuries can be minimized and treated. All patients deserve a positive quality of life, which is possible if they get the appropriate care as soon as possible.

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