11:25pm Saturday 09 December 2017

Mental health important piece of concussion puzzle

Sidney Crosby (Photo: Dan4th Nicholas, Wikimedia)

Dr. Shree Bhalerao said that although Sidney Crosby’s injury has brought concussions into the Canadian consciousness, there has been little mention of the impact of psychiatric symptoms.

“Recovering from a concussion is mostly talked about as a subsiding of physical symptoms like nausea, dizziness and headaches,” Bhalerao said. “But there is little discussion of the mental side – whether there are signs of depression, anxiety or irritability.”

Dr. Bhalerao spends the majority of his practice seeing patients who have had emotional problems after a traumatic brain injury, and knows first-hand how severe the mental health impacts of concussions can be, even long after physical symptoms have disappeared.

Patients who have suffered a head injury often experience a range of psychiatric changes such as depression, lack of motivation, anxiety, a tendency to withdraw, feeling foggy, irritability and are more prone to anger and outbursts.

“For some, it’s like they’ve had a personality change,” Bhalerao said. “There is often a lack of confidence which has a huge impact on people, especially those in a leadership role. There are feelings of doubting yourself and things that you used to rely on your brain to do just aren’t available.”

Many of these symptoms, such as anxiety and sleep disorders occur shortly after the brain injury, but others such as depression typically have a later onset.

“Mental symptoms should be taken just as seriously as physical symptoms,” he said. “If you are suffering from any psychiatric effects of the concussion, it is a sign you are not healed yet. Your brain is still susceptible, just as it would be if you continued to experience physical symptoms.”

With Crosby set to return to the Pittsburgh Penguins line-up tonight, Dr. Bhalerao said that it’s likely there will be a lot of emotions at play and it’s important he is prepared.

About St. Michael’s Hospital

St. Michael’s Hospital provides compassionate care to all who enter its doors. The hospital also provides outstanding medical education to future health care professionals in more than 23 academic disciplines. Critical care and trauma, heart disease, neurosurgery, diabetes, cancer care, and care of the homeless are among the Hospital’s recognized areas of expertise. Through the Keenan Research Centre and the Li Ka Shing International Healthcare Education Center, which make up the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, research and education at St. Michael’s Hospital are recognized and make an impact around the world. Founded in 1892, the hospital is fully affiliated with the University of Toronto.

Media Contacts

For more information or to interview Dr. Bhalerao, please contact:

Kate Taylor
Public Relations Specialist
416-864-6060, ext. 6537


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