Sunday, February 24, 2013

Back from a long hiatus

Concussions have become so common in the news that it became a futile task to list or comment on concussion-related articles. However, I am now finding oddities, errors, and completely incorrect statements among the daily abundance of these articles. Thus, Concussion Watch is re-born: It seems that the topic of concussions has found life in the NASCAR industry, as they describe their new policy in this article from the Florida Times-Union:
NASCAR ... added a concussion policy since Earnhardt Jr.’s crash. Steel and Foam Energy Reduction barriers soften the blows with walls, drivers are required to wear a head and neck restraint, seats have improved to prevent drivers from hitting their heads against roll bars and the steering wheel and helmets have evolved to better dissipate impacts.

The concussion policy is called ImPACT — Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing — and requires drivers to be sent to the track hospital after any substantial impact with the wall. If a doctor there suspects a concussion, the driver must be transported to a local hospital. From there, the driver isn’t allowed to return until cleared by a neurosurgeon with at least five years of experience with sports-related head injuries.

Clarification: ImPACT is a neurocognitive test, and not a NASCAR Policy.

And from today's New York Times:

Long a favorite pitchman as Nascar’s most popular driver, Earnhardt offers a weighty plug to his fellow drivers these days: do not ignore or hide the troubling symptoms of a concussion, and take an Impact evaluation to aid in recovery.

“This test can pinpoint where in the brain you’re struggling, what kind of injury you have, what kind of things you can do to rehab and to recover,” he said. “It helped me a lot. There was a lot of good information I learned throughout that whole process.

Clarification: Neurocognitive tests like ImPACT cannot identify the presence of brain trauma, localize (or pinpoint) specific brain regions, or dictate treatment or rehabilitation strategies.