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Verbal Memory Problems After a Concussion

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The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 1.7 million people in the United States experience traumatic brain injuries, which affect the brain’s normal functioning. One type of traumatic brain injury is a concussion, in which either the patient’s head is hit by a moving object or the head collides with other object. This impact causes the brain to move (]]>MedlinePlus has a video that illustrates how different impacts to the head can cause the brain to jar]]>).

Concussions can cause several different symptoms. Patients may experience emotional changes, such as feeling irritable, nervous or sad. Physical symptoms may occur, such as sensitivity to light or noise, nausea and vomiting, dizziness, lack of energy, headache and vision changes. Some people may see flashing lights. A concussion may also cause some cognitive problems. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention noted that these issues — problems concentrating, thinking clearly and remembering new information — may occur right away or some time after the injury. A possible complication of a concussion is damage to the brain that results in changes to intellectual functioning, added MedlinePlus.

One group that is at risk for problems due to concussions is athletes, and research suggests that college-age athletes that have had a concussion have issues with a specific type of memory. The study, which was presented the 58th Annual Meeting of the American College of Sports Medicine, looked at 100 male and female athletes — soccer and football players — and tested their cognition. The press release from the American College of Sports Medicine stated that the participants were given Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment Testing; they also received an auditory oddball task and the Eriksen Flanker Task while an EEG was done. The researchers found that the participants who had sustained a concussion had worse verbal memory — the ability to remember auditory information — compared to participants who had not.

If a concussion does occur during sports, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommended a four step plan, which involve getting the player off the field, having her evaluated by a health care professional with training in concussions, alerting the player’s guardians, and not letting her play until she is cleared by a health care professional. If a person sustains another concussion before she has recovered from the first one, it may make recovery more difficult or led to serious complications.

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. How Many People Have TBI? 2010. Web. 20 July 2011

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. What are the Signs and Symptoms of Concussion? 2010. Web. 20 July 2011

A.D.A.M. Concussion. MedlinePlus, 2011. Web. 20 July 2011

American College of Sports Medicine. Concussions Impair Cognitive Performance in College Athletes. 2 June 2011. Web. 20 July 2011

Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Concussion in Sports: What Should I Do If a Concussion Occurs?” 2009. Web. 20 July 2011

Reviewed July 21, 2011
by Michele Blacksberg R.N.
Edited by Jody Smith

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We value and respect our HERWriters' experiences, but everyone is different. Many of our writers are speaking from personal experience, and what's worked for them may not work for you. Their articles are not a substitute for medical advice, although we hope you can gain knowledge from their insight.

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