It isn’t just athletes who get concussions. People can get them from car accidents, slipping on the ice, or any number of reasons, leaving them with brain injuries that can take months and even years, in some cases, to heal.
“People who have been in this situation need to be supported,” said Dr. Michelle Mellion, an assistant professor of neurology at the Warren Alpert Medical School at Brown University. Their families need to know that mom may not be able to handle everything the same way she used to before her accident, and that healing from a concussion can be a slow process, she said.
Mellion was one of four neurological specialists who shared their knowledge about concussions at a recent public forum entitled, “Diagnosed with a Concussion, Now What?” The Oct. 24 event at the Warren Alpert Medical School, which drew a crowd of about 100 people, was the first in a series that is planned to help the public understand the nervous system and the myriad neurological problems that can occur as people age.
At the first forum, one goal was to dispel some of the misinformation about concussions that is circulating in the public now that concussions have become a highly publicized issue, Mellion said. In addition to the notion that concussions occur primarily on the playing field, one of those misconceptions is that the medical community knows more about the injury than it actually does.
What doctors and scientists understand now about concussions is just “the tip of the iceberg,” she said.
A concussion is a traumatic injury that occurs when the brain crashes into the skull either because of a blow, fall or other unexpected incident. Most people recover from concussions without any long-lasting injury, but the number of people getting concussions is significant and growing. Between 1.6 million to 3.8 million people a year get concussions in the U.S., but experts say that number is probably much higher.