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Traumatic Brain Injury - Second Impact Syndrome (SIS)

Robert Karns

traumatic brain injury can cause multiple symptoms including cognitive problems, memory problems, organization and multitasking problems, confusion, headaches, visual problems, speech problems and other physical manifestations. One of the biggest problems in suffering a traumatic brain injury is the risk of second impact syndrome. Second impact syndrome is when someone suffers a repeat concussion following the first concussion which can cause major complications.

The statistics involving traumatic brain injury are staggering. Per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), traumatic brain injury is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or a penetrating head injury that disrupts the normal function of the brain. It is not necessary to have a loss of consciousness to suffer a traumatic brain injury. Each year at least 1.7 million traumatic brain injuries occur either as an isolated injury or along with other injuries. This frequency of traumatic brain injuries makes it extremely easy to suffer a second impact syndrome which is a second traumatic brain injury or concussion over and above the first.

Second impact syndrome (SIS) is a condition in which the brain swells rapidly and catastrophically after a person suffers a second concussion or traumatic brain injury before the symptoms from the earlier one have subsided. The results can be devastating, permanent and even fatal. Studies show that the brain is more vulnerable to a second concussive injury administered shortly after the first prior to recovering from the first traumatic brain injury.

Studies also show that people who have received one concussion are at a higher risk to receive a concussion in the future. Evidence exists indicating that people who have had multiple concussive brain injuries over the course of their lives may acquire lasting, and even progressive, cognitive impairment that limits functional ability. Multiple or repeat traumatic brain injuries are extremely dangerous, but a second traumatic brain injury before the symptoms of the first traumatic brain injury have subsided can cause second impact syndrome, brain swelling and catastrophic results.

Second impact syndrome is obvious in sports and society is more aware of the catastrophic results of traumatic brain injury and sports concussions and are at the forefront of health concerns. However, everyone suffering a traumatic brain injury is at risk for a repeat traumatic brain injury and for second impact syndrome.

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