- Burnett School College of Medicine
While news about traumatic brain injuries and legal settlements among professional athletes continues making headlines, it does serve to highlight the importance of seeking immediate medical attention for this potentially life-altering injury.
Dr. Leonardo Oliveira, a board certified sports and internal medicine specialist at UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice, says a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury most often caused by a sudden bump or blow to the head or other parts of the body. As a result of the sudden impact, the brain moves around in the skull causing chemical changes that make it more sensitive to stress and other injuries until it fully recovers. And children generally take longer to recover and require specialized medical attention.
Each year, about 300,000 people in the United States experience sports-related concussions. In fact, the chances that an athlete involved in contact sports, like football and soccer, will suffer a concussion are as high as 19 percent per season. However, concussions don’t just occur in athletes. As the weather cools down and people head outdoors, their concussion risk increases. Other common causes include falls, especially among the elderly, and car accidents.
“It is important to recognize the early signs of concussions—from neck pain to amnesia—and seek immediate medical attention to avoid complications,” said Dr. Oliveira, who received his specialty training in sports medicine at the Cleveland Clinic. There also are many myths surrounding concussion treatment that can impact a full recovery. Symptoms of concussion include:
• Headache/neck pain
• Sensitivity to light or noise
• Poor balance
• Loss of consciousness
• Dazed or stunned behavior
Dr. Oliveira serves as the volunteer physician for University High School’s athletics program and works closely with athletic trainers to evaluate student athletes for potential concussions and other injuries on the spot.