Dr. Joseph Congeni on Bernie Kosar's concussion treatment

2013-02-21 12:15:15 by Public Relations staff, as posted on the inside.akronchildrens.org blog.

Dr. Joe Congeni Dr. Joe Congeni

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar recently announced that he's been cured of many of his symptoms caused by repeated blows to the head after being cared for by a Florida clinic.

Dr. Joe Congeni, director of sports medicine at Akron Children's Hospital, discusses the treatment of brain injuries in relation to Kosar's announcement.



Listen to the interview


Transcript

Host: Ray Horner, host of the morning news program, 1590 WAKR-AM

Guest: Joseph Congeni, M.D., director of sports medicine at Akron Children’s Hospital

Originally aired on 1590 WAKR-AM on January 16, 2013.

Former Cleveland Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar appeared before the media last Thursday in Cleveland to tout the “groundbreaking” care he’s received from Dr. Rick Sponaugle at a wellness institute in Palm Harbor, Florida. Since his record career in the NFL, where he experienced multiple concussions, he has suffered from chronic headaches, slurred speech and a constant ringing in his head. After about a month of intravenous treatments and dietary supplements, he says he sees all his symptoms going away.

Horner: In regards to Bernie Kosar’s presentation to the media last week, explaining he’s getting treatment for a brain disorder from his days in NFL Football, you said a lot of people are talking to you about this?

Dr. Congeni: It’s far and away the biggest question I’ve been asked. “Is there anything to it?” “Is it a hoax?” “Can there be a benefit from this kind of thing?”

He was one of the brightest, sharpest guys and we know he’s undergone chronic brain injury, and unfortunately, you can see it when he speaks.  He has issues with slurred speech. He tells us about chronic headaches he has and that he’s searching for an answer.

When we talk on this show about what we can do about concussions in the future, there are three areas. We spend time talking about prevention. We also talk about making sure that we can a concussion early on so it doesn’t go on to the chronic stage. But, we don’t talk about the third area, when it becomes chronic and it’s clear that there’s brain injury, what can we do treatment wise. The problem is medically, there’s not a lot of research out there yet, even in the area of post-traumatic stress injury. So much of it is anecdotal evidence, like Bernie telling us he goes to a doctor, Dr. Rick Sponaugle in Florida, .

This doctor runs a clinic down there that’s kind of a detox clinic. Part of the problem is a lot of these athletes have to live on painkillers and narcotics and things like that to get through their daily routines because of chronic headaches. What we don’t know are some of the symptoms, like clouding of the brain, and other issues related to their meds, meds to sleep, meds to put up with their headaches. One of the things they do at the Florida detox clinic is they get people off their dependence on medicines. The other thing is they use a cocktail of different supplements. There’s no doubt I believe that supplements could be beneficial to helping people with brain injury, but we don’t have enough research to say what supplements work, and the problem with this clinic is they’re not telling anybody what supplements they use. So, how can we study it research wise?

I think in the future we’re going to be researching this area, to come on and say, yes, this definitely works. We need research to prove how it’s done over the last 20 or 50 or 100 people who have undergone this treatment.

Horner: Well, Bernie is certainly saying the symptoms have all gone away. He was having constant ringing and banging in his head. He said, it’s not like they’ve gone down, he said they’re gone.

Dr. Congeni: Yes. He said there are IV medicines that he was given, and the doctor spoke about that, but it did not tell us medically what medicines or supplements that he’s using.

There’s a term, Ray, called plasticity of the brain. What that means is the brain is amazingly adjustable, adaptable, and I truly believe that even with brain injury there are ways that we can improve. I don’t think it’s all irreversible. I think that we’re going to come up with, in the next several years, things we can do to reverse, to some extent, some of the chronic brain injuries that these people have. But, it’s going to take a lot of hard work and it’s going to take a lot of research before we say for sure what that treatment is.

I don’t want to say, necessarily, that this is all a hoax, and I’m thrilled that Bernie’s doing better, but there’s a lot more work that needs to be done before we say we’ve solved this question.

Horner: Alright, good stuff, Joe. As always, thank you for your time, my friend, and we’ll catch up with you next week.

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