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Brain Imaging for Sports-Related Concussions: When is it Necessary?

Every year, there are around 3.8 million sports-related concussions throughout the country. If that includes you or a loved one, this article is for you.


Thanks to recent technological advancements, brain imaging is now more powerful than ever. It can help those victims of concussions in a variety of ways.


Detailed below, we'll cover the types of brain imaging and how they might be able to benefit you and your family. Keep reading to see how these brain scan images could help aid in the recovery of any sports-related concussion.


What Is Brain Imaging?

Brain imaging, in essence, is a process that takes a picture of your brain. This can help doctors determine the best course of treatment for any patient.


This is of particular value for anyone who's experienced concussions in sports that they play. There are two main types of brain imaging: CT and MRI scans.


A CT scan is a quick and painless procedure. It uses X-rays to create detailed images of your brain.

During a CT scan, you lie still on a table. While you're doing this, a large donut-shaped machine takes pictures of your brain from different angles.


The pictures are then combined to create a 3D image of your brain. CT scans are useful in detecting bleeding, swelling, or fractures in the brain. This makes them a valuable tool in the diagnosis of sports-related concussions.


An MRI scan uses a strong magnetic field and radio waves to create detailed images of your brain. Unlike CT scans, MRI scans don't use X-rays. For this reason, they're a much safer option.


During an MRI scan, you lie still on a table that slides into a large tube-shaped machine. The machine then takes pictures of your brain from all of the necessary angles to get a complete picture. MRI scans are useful in detecting brain injuries and abnormalities that cannot be seen with a CT scan.


When is Brain Imaging Necessary?

Brain imaging is a valuable tool. However, brain imaging is not always necessary.

More serious cases usually take precedence. Examples of these cases might be a stroke, a brain tumor, or certain brain infections like meningitis.


There are specific guidelines and indications that doctors use to determine when brain imaging is in everyone's best interest. These guidelines vary depending on the specific injury or condition.


For sports-related concussions, imaging is typically only recommended when symptoms are severe or prolonged. This may include symptoms such as seizures, loss of consciousness, severe headaches, or neurological deficits.

Perhaps the symptoms persist beyond a certain amount of time. Rather, maybe there's a concern for more serious brain injury. In these cases, imaging may also be recommended.


Loss of consciousness, amnesia, seizures, and severe or prolonged headaches might also lead to a recommendation for MRI brain imaging. So could other neurological deficits such as weakness, numbness, or difficulty speaking.


Doctors determine when brain imaging is necessary by evaluating the patient's symptoms and medical history. They may also conduct a physical exam and neurological assessment. If the doctor believes that brain imaging is necessary, they will then schedule either a CT or MRI scan.


If you are concerned about a possible concussion, take note. It's important to seek medical attention as soon as you can and follow the advice of your doctor.


Benefits and Risks of Brain Imaging

CT and MRI scans can detect serious brain injuries such as bleeding or swelling. These images can lead to more targeted and effective treatment plans.


Brain imaging can also help determine the severity of the concussion. As a result, doctors are better able to provide a baseline for future scans to track recovery progress.

However, there are risks associated with brain imaging. CT scans use X-rays, which can expose patients to a small amount of radiation.


It's true that the amount of radiation used in a CT scan is generally considered safe. Still, repeated exposure can increase the risk of cancer.


MRI scans, on the other hand, don't use radiation. That being said, they can still be uncomfortable for some patients due to the loud noises as well as the need to remain still during the scan.


Perhaps you're considering whether or not to undergo brain imaging for a suspected concussion. Before you make your decision, weigh the potential benefits and risks. This is why brain imaging is only recommended when symptoms are severe or there's a concern for more serious brain injury.


Ultimately, the decision to undergo brain imaging should be made on a case-by-case basis. Only make this choice in consultation with a healthcare professional.

The healthcare professional can help the patient make an informed decision based on their specific situation. It's essential to prioritize safety in the diagnosis and treatment of sports-related concussions.


Other Diagnostic Tools

It's true that brain scan images can be a valuable diagnostic tool for sports-related concussions. That being said, there are also other methods that healthcare professionals use to evaluate and diagnose these injuries.


Identifying the symptoms of a concussion can be a complex process. Sometimes, a comprehensive diagnosis is the best route for doctors to take.

Cognitive testing is another important diagnostic tool used in the evaluation of concussions. These tests may include a variety of tasks designed to assess cognitive function. Examples include memory, attention, and reaction time.


In addition, healthcare professionals also perform a physical examination. This can be a great way to evaluate the patient's symptoms and neurological function. This may include assessing the patient's balance, coordination, reflexes, and strength.


Sallie® from Power of Patients

Nobody knows when a sports-related concussion can happen, but there are certain steps to help individuals properly recover and return to their old selves. These steps include seeing a certified physician, getting a proper diagnosis, tracking any symptoms, and being kind to your body and mind.


All of these can be achieved with the help of Sallie® from Power of Patients. Sallie® aims to assist individuals by being an incredibly easy-to-use and free symptom-tracking dashboard.


The robust data collection approach includes many symptoms for our users to track. By using Sallie®, individuals are taking the necessary steps for care and further prevention of Traumatic Brain Injuries. Whether or not you are involved in a sport or dealing with any type of brain injury, just know that Power of Patients' Sallie® is made for you.

By providing a comprehensive overview of symptoms and progress over time, Sallie® helps individuals and their healthcare professionals make informed decisions about their care and recovery. Sallie® works by allowing individuals to track their symptoms and progress in real-time. Plus, it does so by using a user-friendly interface.


Users can log in to Sallie® from any device and easily track their symptoms. It also allows them to keep an eye on any medications or treatments they're using.

Sallie® also provides personalized insights and recommendations based on the individual's symptoms and progress. This allows them to take a more active role in their care.


Proper Recovery

The truth is that there is "no simple timeline" for recovery from a concussion. Still, you deserve to do your best to take the necessary steps to properly recover and prevent further injury.


The first step after a concussion is to see a certified physician for a proper diagnosis. After that, there are several steps individuals can take to help with their recovery.

The most important step is rest. It's crucial to get plenty of sleep and avoid activities that may aggravate symptoms. These could include physical activity, screen time, or loud noises.


It's also important to stay hydrated and eat a healthy diet. If you need to involve support from your caregivers and loved ones, don't be afraid to ask for help.

Once symptoms start to improve, individuals can gradually start to return to activities. It's important to follow a step-by-step approach, gradually increasing the level of activity as symptoms improve.


Preventing Concussions

Concussions are a common injury, especially in sports and physical activities. However, there are steps individuals can take to reduce the risk of a concussion.


Preventing concussions while playing sports requires a multi-faceted approach. The first thing to remember is to wear appropriate safety equipment for the activity. This may include helmets, mouthguards, or other protective gear.


If participating in contact sports, individuals should be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion in themselves and others. Symptoms may include headache, dizziness, nausea, confusion, or memory loss.


It's also important to ensure that players follow proper technique and form. This is particularly true when it comes to tackling, heading a ball, or any other high-risk activities.


Brain Injury Recovery

No matter what kind of TBI you or your loved one has experienced, recovery can be a tough road. The good news is that you don't have to handle this process alone.

Our team is passionate about helping brain injury patients make the most of their overall quality of life even after their trauma. From understanding brain imaging to building a recovery plan, we're here to help. Learn more about our mission and how we can help you today.

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