Doctors stressing brain injury awareness as fall sports start

BRISTOL, Tenn. - There was a special presentation tonight at the Bristol public library to address an issue that affects young athletes.

The speaker, Dr. Diana Heiman, teaches the next generation of medical practitioners has a message for young athletes and their parents.

Be careful and be vigilant about head trauma.

Football players are the poster children for concussion and brain injuries.  The stories of former NFL stars struggling with health issues later in life brought concussions and traumatic brain injury out of the locker room and into the spotlight.

"Issues with dementia, depression, suicide and we are starting to correlate this now with youth concussion as well," said Heiman

Dr. Heiman is a sports medicine specialist and is on the faculty at East Tennessee State University's Quillen College of Medicine...

She tells News 5 that football players are not the only ones at risk for head trauma. Soccer, basketball and cheerleading can put student athletes at risk.

"In kids this also impacts their study," Dr. Heiman told News 5. "And so they need to be slowed down in their studies and have time to let their brain recover because it is a brain injury."

They say diamonds are forever. Neurosurgeon Dr. Matthew Wood says so are concussions.

"Once you're bonked, I can't unbonk you. I don't have an operation to go in an unbonk your brain," said Wood.

Studies show there is a cumulative effect. Multiple concussion can lead to long term trouble, so athletes and parents need to be aware of the signs and symptoms.
Those symptoms can include dizziness, memory loss, light sensitivity and concentration problems.

"It is incredibly important to have a proper assessment and to make sure the athlete is fully healed before returning to activity," said Heiman." Because of the life-long consequences that can happen.

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