Concussions: 'Hidden injury' in sports
Star receiver Charles-Antoine Sinotte
suffered a concussion during his last home game for the McGill
Redmen in 2010.
"It was like nothing I had experienced before," recalls Sinotte.
"I felt like I was out of my body." Although he received medical
attention and missed the rest of the game, he admits he downplayed
his symptoms in order to play in the next game -- his last before
Two new studies recently published in the Clinical Journal of
Sport Medicine co-authored by Dr. J. Scott Delaney, a team
physician for the Montreal Alouettes, Montreal Impact, and McGill
football and soccer, shed light on the most common form of head
injury seen in athletes. They suggest that concussions continue to
be a "hidden injury" in sports, even in the face significant
increased public awareness.
Minimizing and concealing concussion
"People have suspected for a long time that concussions are under
reported by athletes. We examined how often this actually occurs
and the reasons why athletes choose to hide their concussions,"
says Dr. Delaney, who is also a sports medicine specialist and
research director in the Department of Emergency Medicine at the
McGill University Health Centre (MUHC) and an associate professor
in the Faculty of Medicine at McGill University.
According to Dr. Delaney's research, which involved the surveying
of 469 university athletes over a 12-month period, 20% of
university athletes believed they had suffered a concussion during
this time and almost 80% of these concussed athletes decided not to
seek medical attention and chose to continue playing despite
believing they had suffered a concussion.
"The athletes' most common explanation was that they did not feel
their concussion was serious," explains Dr. Delaney. "They believed
it would not be dangerous to continue to play or practice. Most
athletes know what should happen when they get a concussion -- they
will be taken out of the game. However, they are not always aware
that a concussion, if not recognized and treated, can be extremely
dangerous." Athletes who play or practice while they have symptoms
of concussion are at risk of far more serious injury, including
repeated concussions. This can lead to cumulative neurological
damage and even, in the long term, cognitive impairment and
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