MANHASSSET, NY – A New York City neurosurgeon says it does not matter who joins or drops out of the NFL lawsuit concerning concussions – the important thing is keeping the issue in the limelight and ensuring that people understand the importance of proper treatment.
Whether former quarterback Dan Marino is part of the lawsuit or not, this legal action is showing that concussions need to be taken seriously. Jamie Ullman, MD, director of neurotrauma at North Shore University Hospital in Manhasset, says the long-term effects of concussions, particularly if someone has had repeated concussions, can be headaches, memory disturbances, an inability to concentrate, an inability to perform work duties well and either the inability to sleep or sleeping too much.
“The first sign of a concussion is if a player seems dazed or confused,” Dr. Ullman says. “If someone gets hit in the head with a ball, say during soccer practice or in football, if there’s been some contact resulting in injury to the head, it’s very important to see if there’s been any loss of consciousness. There may not be loss of consciousness, the person may be completely awake, but they may have seen stars or have other signs, seem vaguely disoriented. Any of these transient symptoms that don’t necessarily result in actually blacking out can be concussions.”
Concussions are defined clinically as any alteration of a person’s consciousness after an impact to the head, Dr. Ullman says. Other signs of concussions are not speaking clearly and dizziness.
Recognizing the signs of a concussion immediately and beginning treatment as soon as possible is critical to a person’s recovery. Concussions vary in severity and how long the recovery period takes; it can be as soon as minutes to hours and, in rare cases, people can suffer for months to years with prolonged, post-concussion syndrome.