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Minor injury might spell serious trouble

If you have just banged your head getting into a car, walked into the top of a low door way or, simply slipped over in the street, take heed and see a doctor. For, latest research shows that even a minor head injury may result in impaired functioning of the brain and result in a range of neurological consequences from impaired memory to depression.

There are few sights more visually mesmerizing in sports than a Messi, Neymar or Ronaldo dancing through a football ground and striking a ball into the net with their heads—an act that unfailingly sends millions of people around the world into raptures.

But of late neuro scientists have discovered that, beautiful as it might be,regular and repeated contacts between balland head could end up altering structures within the brain and cause permanent neurological damage. The finding has led to the way doctors now look at minor head injuries (ones that do not lead to loss of consciousness or result only in concussions) and the way YOU too must.

Studies have proved that people engaged in contact sports like football, boxing, rugby or ice hockey are at a heightened risk of suffering from disorders like impaired memory, difficulty to concentrate, anxiety, intolerance to light, irritability and loss of efficiency at work.Mohammad Ali is believed to have fallen prey to Parkinson’s at 42 because he received repeated blows to his head through his glorious boxing career.

In a neurological and electroencephalographic (EEG) study conducted by the US-based National Institute of Health that involved 69 active and 37 former football players of the Norwegian national team, 3% of the active and 30% of the former players complained of incessant headaches, dizziness, irritability, impaired memory and neck pain. Several other studies employing advanced technologies like MRI Tractography, a technique that visually represents neural tracts using data collected by diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), have ratified such findings.

The inference is irrefutable: No brain injury (regardless of how innocuous it might appear) is to be taken lightly or disregarded. In the US, roughly 1.7 million people suffer from head injuries of all sorts. Though such data is not available for India, the figure is likely to be huge and if global trends are any indication, it is likely that more than 75 per cent of those injuries are ‘minor’—many of the kind that may cause long-term problems.

Owing largely to lack of awareness, very few people who suffer from such injuries in the country ever think it is necessary to see a doctor let alone visit a hospital, whichraises the prospect of the country being swamped by a silent epidemic — millions of people suffering from mental disability of varied kinds. Remember: Even a seemingly minor head injury can sometimes stretch nerve connections, disconnecting different parts of the brain.

The fact is that not every minor injury is worth worrying about. Indeed, very rarely does an accidental bump result in anything worse than sharp transient pain that in almost all cases disappears without a trace leaving the brain intact. Indeed, there is no medical system anywhere in the world that would not collapse if every individual who hits his head somewhere by accident were to turn up at a hospital. However, if following a head injury you experience any symptom like a headache, intolerance to light, anxiety or difficulty to concentrate that does not go away in a few days then you simply must seek expert medical advise of the sort available at Brains or any similar brain centre.

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