Tackling the Public Health Problem of Brain Injury

Dr. David Hovda talks about the problems of misdiagnosis and how efforts to increase awareness and prevention could help athletes and soldiers.

When you think about the public health problem that we may be creating by having these 1.7 million Americans that are being hurt by a head injury there's probably a couple of facets of this. The first is, well, my goodness, we've misdiagnosed or we've, you know, these things are happening and all these long-term problems are going to occur which we are seeing now out of this elegant work out of the University of Boston. The other problem most likely is is that these individuals...these are happening and then these individuals become misdiagnosed. And they have more complications because of that misdiagnosis and mistreatment. And so we're making the problem worse rather than better. So, it's sort of, um, you know, we could think about increasing the protection of individuals to try to reduce the events. We could increase our ability to make the right diagnosis so that we don't expose them to repeat types of blows. And we, thereby, are giving them the opportunity for the appropriate therapy and the appropriate treatment. And maybe that, maybe that is similar to what we are trying to do with the military. Maybe through those types of efforts we are going to be able to reduce what they are seeing in Boston. Some of these players have been retired for many years. So we're talking well before there was anything like a concussion scale or a series of protocols that they do for the National Football League now and for the military now. Once those are in place, God hoping and God willing, that it will reduce those incidences of those types of pathologies that they are seeing in Boston.
Posted on BrainLine October 24, 2011.

Produced by Noel Gunther, Ashley Gilleland, and Brain King, BrainLine.

About the author: David Hovda, PhD

David Hovda, PhD is the director of the UCLA Brain Injury Research Center. He is past president of the National Neurotrauma Society and past president of the International Neurotrauma Society.  He has served as chair of study sections for the National Institute for Neurological Disease and Stroke.

David Hovda