Concussion can be caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. Whether from a sports injury, a slip or fall or another incident, concussion can happen to anyone.
Every minute, approximately four people in the United States experience a concussion,1 yet it is estimated up to 50 percent of all mild brain injuries go unreported.2 Knowing about concussion and getting diagnosed early is key to getting the right treatment for a person to recover and better his/her chances of returning safely to activities he/she most enjoys.
The problem is there are a lot of misconceptions about concussions. In fact, new survey data shows that a large number of adults in the U.S. lack basic understanding about concussion signs and symptoms, risk and treatment.
Abbott's new Concussion IQ Survey polled more than 1,000 adults in the United States and revealed that the majority of American adults aren't concussion-savvy. Key findings include:
- More than 80 percent of adults can't identify the common signs and symptoms of concussion.
- 11 percent say they would go to the emergency room if they thought they had a concussion.
- 6 in 10 people believe that you must lose consciousness to have a concussion.
- Adults are five times more likely to seek medical attention for a broken bone compared to if they thought they had a concussion.
- 6 in 10 adults don't understand that treating a concussion includes mental rest, which may mean limiting time spent on cell phones, watching TV and other activities that could worsen symptoms.
- More than 80 percent of adults believe a person shouldn't sleep and should be woken up periodically after being diagnosed with a concussion.
- 64 percent of adults say they didn't seek medical attention the last time they hit their head very hard, but 9 in 10 people would seek medical attention for a child.
- Almost 70 percent of parents wouldn't send their child to school the day after he hit his head very hard, but over half say they would still go to work or school themselves after a hard hit to the head.
"Based on the survey results, it's clear there's a need to build more awareness and understanding about concussion," said Dr. Beth McQuiston, Board-Certified Neurologist and Medical Director, Diagnostics, Abbott. "We want to educate and empower everyone – parents, athletes, coaches and beyond – to be able to recognize the signs of concussion to help people seek the proper care and rest."
Unlike other injuries you can feel with your hands or see on an X-ray, concussions can be tricky to diagnose, as Dr. McQuiston points out in this FoxNews.com article. The article tells the story of a former high-school basketball player who suffered consecutive concussions and started a nonprofit organization to raise awareness about the condition.
Currently, there is no fool-proof way to diagnose a mild brain injury, and while imaging such as CT scans can help, the majority of these scans can appear normal even when an injury has occurred. Because of this, many concussions go undiagnosed and untreated.
To address this issue, Abbott is partnering with the U.S. Department of Defense with the goal of developing a blood test capable of evaluating potential concussions. Currently in development, the test will be designed to detect specific proteins in the blood associated with brain injury and will be used on Abbott's i-STAT – a handheld, portable analyzer that is used to perform a broad range of common blood tests.
So, what's your concussion IQ?
Could you spot the signs of a concussion? Answer these statements true or false to find out:
- Concussions are always accompanied by dizziness and blurred vision.
- The symptoms of concussion can mimic those of other conditions.
- It's essential to try to keep someone who has a concussion awake all night.
- Medical imaging tests such as CT scans can definitively tell if a person has a concussion.
- Only physical rest is needed for treating a concussion.
- False. Concussion symptoms can vary and may include dizziness, blurred vision, balance problems, nausea, vomiting, fatigue, and increased anxiety or irritability.
- True. Many of the symptoms associated with concussion can be confused with other conditions such as dehydration or not getting enough sleep.
- False. After a person is evaluated by their health care provider, sleep and rest are usually recommended for those who have a brain injury.
- False. Currently, there's no fool-proof way to diagnose a concussion. While imaging tests such as CT scans can help, the majority of these scans can appear normal even when an injury has occurred. Because of this, many concussions go undiagnosed and untreated.
- False. Treating a concussion can also include mental rest, which may mean limiting time spent on cell phones, watching TV and other activities that could worsen symptoms.
To learn more about concussions, including Abbott's new Concussion IQ Survey, check out these resources:
- Press Release: New Concussion Survey Reveals Majority of Adults are Unable to Recognize Common Concussion Symptoms
- Infographic: What's Your Concussion IQ?
- Infographic: Sports and Concussion
- Infographic: Football and Concussion
- Infographic: Brain Basics: Understanding Traumatic Brain Injury