Concussions, headaches under study

The NCAA Headache Task Force is studying whether athletes suffering from postconcussion headaches were more prone to headaches due to pre-existing conditions, such as migraines or tension or sinus headaches.

The 2015 movie “Concussion,” starring Will Smith, placed the seriousness of repeated concussions back into the national spotlight and on the radar of a Norton Healthcare researcher.

“Concussion is a significant injury in competitive sports, primarily contact and collision sports,” said Tad D. Seifert, M.D. “Postconcussion headache is associated with about 94 percent of concussions.”

Dr. Seifert also is director of the Norton Healthcare Sports Concussion Program and chairperson of the NCAA Headache Task Force. The task force is studying whether athletes suffering from postconcussion headaches were more prone to headaches due to pre-existing conditions, such as migraines or tension or sinus headaches.

The task force is wrapping up a study of 834 student athletes participating in contact and noncontact sports at five NCAA schools: Stanford University, University of Kentucky, University of Pittsburgh, West Virginia University and Western Kentucky University.

Although the full findings won’t be published until spring, Dr. Seifert said, “The prevalence of migraine headaches among the student athletes was higher than we expected.”

This finding mirrors the results of a study of 74 Louisville high school football players that Dr. Seifert led last summer. It found that 33.8 percent of them experienced migraines, an occurrence twice that of the general population. The rate climbed to 37.5 percent in players who had suffered a single concussion and 40.7 percent for those with multiple concussions.

Dr. Seifert said plans are underway for Phase 2 of the NCAA study that will follow incoming student athletes in all sports throughout their college careers to see the pattern of headaches.

Dr. Seifert treats athletes of all ages and at all levels, from youth sports to professional leagues.

For more information, contact Dr. Seifert at (502) 899-6782 or tad.seifert@nortonhealthcare.org. Patients interested in learning more about the program should contact their physician.


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