Jeffrey Cummins, 17 of Lowell is an accomplished athlete in wrestling and football, as well as an honor student. He has been wrestling competitively since he was in eighth grade. While playing organized sports, he has suffered a fractured hip, torn ligaments and a torn cornea, but when he was injured in a wrestling match several weeks ago, he had no idea how his injury would affect him or his ability to play sports.
During a wrestling match, Jeffrey suffered a concussion, but at the time no one really knew it. His coaches thought he had a severe nose bleed which is pretty common in wrestling. When the bleeding wouldn't stop, his parents sought medical care.
When trauma or injury to the head or spine temporarily interferes with the way the brain works, there is the possibility of a concussion that needs immediate attention and diagnosis. Seeking medical care as soon as possible following the injury is important to make a full recovery and decrease the chance of developing long-term side effects.
Due to Jeffrey's type of injury, before he could return to playing the sports he loved, he needed to take an ImPACT test, which helps evaluate the severity of a concussion. Jeffrey's test results were worse than his baseline exam and his athletic trainer would not release him to return to playing sports. The athletic trainer referred him to the Concussion Clinic at Community Hospital in Munster for a full evaluation and treatment plan.
The Concussion Clinic at Community Hospital in Munster has a medical team of experts experienced in evaluating and treating concussions and provides individualized treatment options to help patients resume their normal activities. Besides treating concussions, the clinic also educates people on the importance of seeking medical care for head injuries that may not seem too severe.
"Concussions are a large issue in the sports arena," says Mohammad S. Shukairy, M.D., neurosurgeon at the Concussion Clinic. "Even if the concussion is fairly mild, without proper medical treatment, the symptoms and effects can become a serious lingering issue," he says.
When Jeffrey and his mom, Melissa Cummins, arrived at the Concussion Clinic at Community Hospital, they first saw John Doherty, athletic trainer and physical therapist specially trained in concussion care. "As soon as I saw Jeffrey I knew he was still affected by his concussion. He had a glazed look across his face," says John Doherty. "The results of his ImPACT test and physical evaluation confirmed what I saw."
"At the Concussion Clinic Jeffrey also was examined by Mohammad S. Shukairy, M.D.," says Melissa Cummins. "I appreciated his honesty about the severity of the concussion, treatment options and how this will impact Jeffrey's sports career."
Quickly recognizing and responding appropriately to a concussion is important to effectively treat the condition. When the injury is recognized and treated properly, most people fully recover from a single concussion. However, it is imperative to completely recover from a first concussion prior to risking a second concussion. Individuals who sustain multiple concussions, particularly children playing sports, may take longer to recover each time and may very well experience extended post concussion symptoms or disability.
"The key to concussion care is proper diagnosis and treatment at the point of injury whether in a sporting event or accident," says Shukairy. "Oftentimes, people wait to seek medical care thinking their headache or other symptoms will go away after they rest."
As it turns out, concussions are quite common in wrestling due to the nature of the sport. Many times people who suffer a head injury may continue to play sports or resume their normal activities without seeking medical care because they do not think their injury warrants treatment.
Cummins suffers short term memory loss and is very sensitive to lights and sounds. He has always been very active, but since the concussion he finds himself tired and needing to rest.
"Each day I am feeling better," says Cummins. "I still have a slight headache, but not as bad as before. I am so happy that I went to the Concussion Clinic because the doctors and therapists are really helping me recover," he says.
Mom Melissa Cummins says, "Parents need to be advocates for their children. There are resources available such as the Concussion Clinic to help recover from head injuries. I am so glad we were referred to Community Hospital's Concussion Clinic."
Common symptoms of a concussion may include physical, cognitive or emotional symptoms. Physical symptoms may include headache, dizziness, balance problems, nausea, vomiting, sensitivity to light and numbness or tingling in the face or extremities. People who experience cognitive symptoms may feel confused - have trouble concentrating or remembering events before or after the injury. Emotional symptoms such as irritability, sadness, and anxiety may also be present. Still other people may experience drowsiness or disruptions in sleep patterns.
The Concussion Clinic at Community Hospital provides a variety of services for concussion care, including:
• Diagnosis of concussion
• Physical exam
• Referral, when indicated, for medical imaging such as x-ray, CT scan, or MRI
• ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the first, most-widely used, and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. ImPACT is a 20-minute test that has become a standard tool used in comprehensive clinical management of concussions for athletes of all ages
• Plan of care for recovery and rehabilitation
• Neuropsychological consult when indicated
• Physical Therapy
• Returning to daily activities, including sports, school and work
• Working collaboratively with your primary care physician
If you have a head or neck injury, don't wait - head to the experts. Call Community Hospital's Concussion Clinic at 219-836-4461.