Dr presents head injury research

LONG after a child or adolescent has recovered from the initial impact of a big bump on the head, he or she may continue to have persistent problems with attention, emotions and thinking.

Dr James Donnelly, a clinical and neuro-psychologist and a lecturer and researcher at Southern Cross University, has long been investigating mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, in children and adults.

He will present a summary of research and clinical findings in this field at a free public lecture in Coffs Harbour this Friday at 3.30pm in room D-350 (D-block lecture theatre) at the Coffs Harbour campus.

“Headaches, dizziness and other typical concussion symptoms may subside, but for some young people, there can be ongoing problems after a head injury, even after what seems like a minor head injury,” Dr Donnelly said.

Dr Donnelly collected the first pre-injury baseline data on children and adolescents in Australia. He then used this baseline data to assess the effects of subsequent sports-related concussions.

His work with young people has been supported for several years by a New York company, Headminder Inc, which works with professional and university athletes.

The testing program is administered via the internet so has the potential to be used in rural and regional areas, connecting these communities to specialist care.

Consistent with prior reports on post-injury only findings in the US and Australia, Dr Donnelly’s results indicated that some children had persistent problems in attention, mood and thinking long after typical concussion symptoms subsided.

Dr Donnelly’s talk will examine the controversial literature on defining concussions and their effects and describe a program of clinical practice designed to more clearly assess concussion recovery.

“The challenge is to sensitively detect which children require additional help or more time to recover before returning to contact sports, as most children seemingly recover from concussions without long-term negative effects,” Dr Donnelly emphasised.

“I will also describe some cognitive rehabilitation strategies found to be effective in supporting children and adolescents who have suffered concussions.”

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