The hallmark signs of a concussion include headaches, fatigue and trouble concentrating. But these symptoms have been linked to other factors as well. In fact, a recent study found that NCAA athletes and service academy cadets experience similar symptoms as a result of stress, poor sleep and underlying mental health problems.
About the Study
The study was published in the journal Sports Medicine in January of this year. Research was conducted by the Concussion Assessment, Research and Education (CARE) consortium, which is a researching body established by the National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) and U.S. Department of Defense.
The purpose of the study is to inform clinicians they should consider both injuries and other factors when evaluating athletes and cadets for possible concussions.
Researchers collected data from more than 18,000 NCAA student athletes and 12,000 military service academy collects. To do this, they utilized a diagnostic survey called the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool, third edition (SCAT3). This survey helps in the diagnosis of post-concussion syndrome (PCS) and assesses symptoms like memory, balance and recall problems, among other symptoms.
Participants’ pre-concussion medical histories were also taken into account.
Researchers found that 11.4% of male student athletes, 20% of female student athletes, 17.8% of male cadets and 27.6% of female cadets all reported PCS-qualifying symptoms despite no recently reported concussion.
Across all groups, stress, sleep problems, migraines and pre-existing psychiatric disorders were strong predictors of PCS symptoms. For NCAA athletes, ADHD and depression were the most common predictors. For cadets, stress caused by first-year basic training and academic problems were the most common predictors.
Diagnosing Concussions Can Be Challenging
Concussion symptoms tend to be non-specific, meaning there are many factors that can cause them, not just concussions. Because of this, concussions can be challenging to diagnose.
Even so, symptom reporting remains the standard method for identifying a concussion. Signs include:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Balance problems or dizziness.
- Blurry or double vision.
- Sensitivity to light and noise.
- Feeling foggy or sluggish.
- Confusion, trouble concentrating or memory problems.
- Feeling “off.”
If you experience any of these symptoms and you’ve recently hit your head riding your bike at Texas World Speedway, it’s important to be evaluated right away. For more information or to schedule an appointment, call Texas ENT & Allergy today.