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2014-01-24 14:45:11
Jamaica Hospital Warns: Bicyclists Suffer More Brain Injuries Than Football Players
For Immediate Release
Michael Hinck, Director, Public Affairs
(718) 206-8739
mhinck@jhmc.org

Idan Sims, Sims & Associates, Inc.
(917) 940-7876 /(212) 725-3838
idan@simsinc.com

Cyclists have the highest rate of sports-related brain injuries, higher than football or other contact sports. While considerable focus is paid to the relationship between the cumulative effects of concussions and violent, contact sports, such as football, surprisingly many non-contact sports and recreational activities have a high incidence of brain injuries, with cycling having the greatest risk.

With the advent of the warm weather cycling season, doctors at Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) Unit warn about the potential dangers associated with cycling, as well as how to identify the signs and symptoms of concussive injuries.

According to statistics reported by the American Association of Neuro Surgeons, there were over 446,000 sports related brain injuries treated in hospital emergency departments in the U.S. in 2009, the most recent data available. Of those, over 85,000, or over 20% of head injuries, were associated with cycling, nearly double head injuries from football, the next highest rated sports activity, with close to 47,000 reported head injuries.

Jamaica Hospital Neuro-Psychologist Dr Gonzalo Vazquez-Casals has extensive experience treating cyclists who have suffered head-injuries, both in the Hospital’s TBI Unit as well as those recovering on an out patient basis.

“Head injuries as a result from cycling accidents can range from mild to severe, but regardless of the severity, all head injuries should be taken very seriously. If not dealt with appropriately, even the most minor injury can have long-term effects,” said Dr Vazquez-Casals.

Traumatic Brain Injury is defined as a blow or jolt to the head, or a penetrating injury that disrupts normal function of the brain. Concussions are the most common form of head injury. Concussions are defined as trauma-induced transient loss of mental functioning lasting less than 24 hours and may or may not be accompanied by a loss of consciousness. They are usually categorized into one of three grades:

• Grade I – Post-Traumatic Amnesia less than 30 minutes without loss of consciousness
• Grade II - Post-Traumatic Amnesia: 30 minutes – 24 hours with loss of consciousness lasting less than 5 minutes
• Grade III - Post-Traumatic Amnesia for over 24 hours with loss of consciousness lasting more than 5 minutes

Symptoms of a concussion include headaches/pressure in the head, confusion, dizziness, ringing in the ears, nausea or vomiting, slurred speech and fatigue. Some other symptoms can be immediate or have a delayed onset of hours or even days, including memory problems, irritability or depression, sensitivity to light, and disorders of taste and smell.

According to Dr. Vazquez-Casals, “if you experience any of these symptoms, seek immediate medical attention. A physician can assess your attention, memory, coordination and other abilities and order the appropriate imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI, to determine the severity of your injury."

Doctors recommend getting plenty of rest and avoid any physically or mentally demanding activities that place unnecessary stress on the brain. This includes any kind of exercise, driving a car, operating machinery or using a computer.

Dr. Vazquez-Casals warns against “pushing yourself.”

“Getting proper rest after sustaining a concussion is the most important step to a complete recovery. If you are cyclist who has suffered a concussion or brain injury, don’t get back on a bicycle until you are cleared to do so by a doctor, or you put yourself at risk for further, more serious injuries,” he said.

Jamaica Hospital Medical Center serves a population greater than 1.2 million in Queens and eastern Brooklyn. This 384-bed medical center is an accredited community teaching hospital with a large network of community-based ambulatory care centers. JHMC offers an array of acute inpatient, rehabilitation and mental health services, and is one of the busiest Level 1 trauma centers in New York City. The hospital provides general medical, pediatric, and dental services, in addition to home health services. Jamaica Hospital Medical Center’s mission is to serve patients and the community in a way that is second to none. For additional information, please contact Public Affairs at 718-206-6020.
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