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North Texas Doctors Seek More Answers About Concussions

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Although nearly four million people a year sustain concussions, there’s still a lot doctors don't know about them, including Dr. Munro Cullum.  The neuropsychologist is one of the researchers at UT Southwestern Medical Center leading a study of several hundred people to eventually come up with better treatment for concussion. 

Highlights from Dr. Munro’s interview:

The current main treatment for concussion: “Rest. But we don’t know exactly much rest is good and for whom. One individual may recover rather completely within hours, days. A small subset of individuals tend to show a little bit longer recover, and we need to better identify who those people are and what factors in their background might contribute to prolonged recovery. Or maybe even given us some indication as to might respond best to some specific treatment.”

Why study people as young as five? "The effects of concussion differ, based on age a bit. It doesn’t take as much of a hit to cause a concussion for someone who’s much younger obviously, and then the fully developed brain isn’t fully enervated until the early 20s actually. So we’re interested in gender differences and rates of recovery. Right now, we don’t even know the rates of incidents of concussion across the state. We don’t records to tell us how many occur in each city, district, state, etc. So we need some basic information about the frequency of injuries, and then what is the typical recovery curve for the different age groups by gender, socio-economic status, other medical history factors and so on.” 

For more information:

Con-Tex study (North Texas Sports Concussion Registry) 

CDC: Heads Up 

Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.