Concussion in Sport
Mar 02, 2021
Sport-related concussions continue to be a major issue among young athletes. Even with new information emerging on how to identify and treat concussions, the majority of athletes refuse to buy-in to these concepts. In fact, most people will say that they take concussions seriously, but will fail to acknowledge symptoms when it happens to them. Why is this?
Sport culture has always labelled athletes as tough warriors that suffer through pain for the good of the team. Athletes hate sitting out and watching their team play without them, and coaches want their top players to play, often sacrificing individual health for team success. On top of this, young athletes are often pressured by teammates and parents to “suck it up”. This is dangerous because concussions often go unnoticed by most people. It isn’t an injury that we can clearly see like a broken bone. It has become an unfortunate trend to brush off a concussion as a minor injury, when it can become a major issue without proper care. This is why it is so important for everyone to understand how a concussion happens, how important it is to rehabilitate, and what can be done to avoid dangerous situations.
How do concussions happen?
- Direct impact to the head causing movement of the brain.
- Impact to the body causing movement of the brain.
Concussions occur because of acceleration and deceleration occurring in the brain, which can occur with or without direct impact to the head. This means receiving/delivering a clean body check or taking a hard fall and landing on your side can still potentially cause a concussion!
There is also evidence showing that accumulating subconcussive impacts to the head can potentially have adverse effects on neurological health, but more research on how much and how often is needed to make a conclusive statement.
(1) This image shows how the brain reacts to impact. It’s jello-like consistency shows how stretching and shearing could easily occur. The same thing can happen when your body takes the impact!
Can helmets prevent concussions?
No matter how much money you spend on your helmet, it will not guarantee protection from a concussion. In fact, some helmets are more effective when protecting against certain objects from not others (ex. impacts from a puck, but not an impact from another player, and vice versa). Very few materials are effective in reducing force from all types of impact. A helmet is more effective in protecting your head to avoid skull fractures, but your brain can still bounce around with only body contact.
Second impact syndrome: What is it? Why is it bad?
Second impact syndrome occurs when you get a second concussion before your first concussion is completely healed. This occurs more often than you might think, especially if the first concussion goes unreported or unrecognized. Athletes that continue to play after getting a potential concussion are at high risk, as any impact causing a second concussion, no matter how small, can cause cell death and inflammation.
Continuing to play through a suspected concussion puts you at risk for permanent damage and disability. On top of this, your concussions will likely be more intense and take longer to heal!
Athletes need to be aware of this, and parents, coaches, trainers, and teammates need to constantly remind each other of this risk. It might be the difference between an athlete deciding to report a concussion or keeping it to themselves!
How can you tell if an athlete is concussed? How can we prevent them from playing?
There are many ways to screen an athlete for a concussion mid game. A useful tool that anyone can use is the CRT5 (Concussion Recognition Tool 5). Anyone can access this form by googling “CRT5”, and it is a sheet of paper that every coach and trainer should have access to during all games and practices. It provides step by step instructions on how to screen an athlete and red flags to watch for.
Ultimately, coaches and trainers have the final say in whether an athlete can continue playing safely or not. If you have any doubt on whether or not a player is concussed, remove them from the game!! It is far better to remove them from the game and find out they are fine rather than letting them play through a concussion and risk further injury.
Why should I get a baseline test?
The most accurate way to diagnose and discharge a concussion is to compare how you are doing with how you typically feel on a day to day basis. The only way to do this is to obtain an up to date baseline from you when you are concussion free. We can use this to effectively discharge your concussion, since sometimes you feel better but your body hasn’t physiologically recovered yet.
At Active Physio Works, we have many practitioners who are certified to appropriately diagnose, treat, and discharge concussions. We use the Complete Concussion Management Inc. (CCMI) system to guide the entire process, which consists of an extensive baseline to prevent cheating, treatment to guide rehabilitation, and a step by step procedure to discharge a concussion. Athletes may undergo extra testing to ensure they are ready to return to full play.
Baseline tests expire after 1 year so that your current baseline accurately reflects your abilities at the time of concussion.
Book in at any of the Active Physio Works clinic locations for a concussion baseline, assessment, or treatment by calling 780 458 8505.
All information taken from Complete Concussion Management Inc. (accessed March, 2021).
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