The U.S. Food and Drug Administration has approved a new medical device that could identify brain injuries in athletes in less than a minute. The product, which uses virtual reality to detect eye movement impairment, is designed for the sidelines of playing fields and could help protect football players and other athletes in West Virginia and nationwide.
While West Virginia residents incur head injuries for various reasons, professional sports has provided an avenue for exploring the long-term implications of serious or multiple traumatic brain injuries. Football has been an area of particular concern, and a recent acknowledgement by an NFL official about the link between the sport and serious brain disease issues has added credence to the concerns being raised not only with football but also with other sports and scenarios.
Individuals who have suffered some sort of head injury are common visitors to emergency rooms in West Virginia, but the medical profession has yet to develop a standardized method of evaluating the severity of this type of injury. Figures from the Centers for Disease Control reveal that more than 2 million people with a traumatic brain injury are treated in U.S. emergency rooms each year, and researchers from the University of Minnesota and a Minneapolis medical center plan to study thousands of patients in order to better understand how these injuries should be assessed and treated.
Many people in West Virginia are unaware that a concussion and a brain injury are two somewhat different things. While a concussion may cause a person to lose consciousness briefly or not at all, a brain injury usually results in an extended period of lost consciousness. Brain injuries are more severe than concussions and they can cause a range of different life-altering symptoms.
According to research published in PLOS One, researchers believe that they have developed a treatment that could minimize the long and short-term damage caused by a traumatic brain injury. A TBI is defined as any blow to the head that could interfere with the brain's normal function. In severe cases, symptoms can last for several months, and a TBI could lead to Alzheimer's.
Some West Virginia residents may be some of the 2 to 5 million throughout the nation who are living with a disability that was caused by a traumatic brain injury. The number of people who are taken to the emergency room after suffering a traumatic brain injury has risen by 70 percent over the past ten years. Depending on the severity of the injury, individuals can be left with severe medical issues.
West Virginians who have sustained brain injuries may find themselves dealing with some common myths. One of the most common is that all traumatic brain injuries involve bleeding or some form of loss of consciousness. In reality, there are many closed head injuries that do not result in penetration of the skin or skull and do not involve bleeding. Other brain injuries may occur without the victim losing consciousness at all. Even if an injury does not bleed, it can still have serious consequences.
West Virginia residents might have noticed that brain injuries have been a hot topic in recent years, with many news stories coming out about NFL players and combat veterans suffering debilitating problems due to head trauma. However, a person doesn't have to be a professional athlete or a soldier to experience a brain injury. Student athletes and car accident victims often suffer concussions, which are mild traumatic brain injuries.
West Virginians may be interested in findings that concussions increase the risk of dementia in seniors. Approximately 1.7 million Americans experience a minor concussion each year, and 15 percent of those who experience repeated brain injuries experience abnormal brain functioning in the future. Car accidents and contact sports are common causes of concussions and other head injuries. Some research has shown that individuals in their mid-50s who sustain traumatic brain injuries are at an increased risk of developing dementia.
People in West Virginia who suffer even small bumps on the head should beware of symptoms such as headaches over a long period of time, weakness in their legs and arms or difficulty thinking. While most of these bumps are harmless, in a few cases, they can lead to a dangerous brain injury called a subdural hematoma.