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Local neurosurgeon’s advice on brain injuries for athletes

Just a bump on the head or an injury with more serious consequences? March is Brain Injury Awareness month.  A local neurosurgeon offers his expertise on the below.  “Brainy Days 2019” is series of programs and talks that runs through March 30, sponsored by Florida Atlantic University’s Brain Institute.

“Head injuries are real and more common than you think,” said Delray Beach neurosurgeon Dr. Evan Packer. “You see a lot of concussion-related injuries in the NFL.  Severe head injuries are life altering.”

The Mayo Clinic’s definition: traumatic brain injury usually results from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body.  More serious traumatic brain injury can result in bruising, torn tissues, bleeding and other physical damage to the brain.

Q: What’s important to know in a community like ours?

A: To wear protective devices like helmets or padding. Wear reflective gear [in the dark]. If you have an injury, get it checked out.  Kids participating in sports go back to sports before they’re completely healed.

Q: Is that happening less often?

A: Concussion protocols are more common now.

Q: What do you see most in your practice in Delray Beach?

A: I’m a neurosurgeon and Delray Medical Center is a trauma hospital. Typically, I interface with high-impact or some form of trauma. I had a [high school] football player who had a seizure and subdural hematoma on the field.

Q: What happened to him?

A: We operated on him and fortunately he’s back at school. He’s not going to play football anymore because of the risk.

Q: What do your patients want to know and what do you tell them?

A: I get asked a lot of questions. It’s up to parents to decide on sports and the risk involved. Bike riding is inherently dangerous and we see a lot of injuries. They might be hit by a driver not paying attention.

Q: So what’s your advice to bicyclists?

A: Be vigilant this can happen and wear a helmet.

Q: What’s new in your field?

A: Imaging gets better and there’s more understanding of the injuries and recognizing them early. That’s what’s different.

Q: So what should people look for?

A: If there is such an injury, seek medical attention and treat it appropriately. If someone has a persistent headache, memory problem or confusion, see your primary doctor or go to a hospital.

By Marci Shatzman

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