Returning to the Sport You Love Education on head injury

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Concussions have become the new hot topic among the sporting world, and it’s an old problem that is now taking a front seat within the medical community. Concussions most commonly occur during or immediately following a sporting event, and they can happen at any age and with any kind of high-impact force to the head. They are also very common in car accidents, or with something as simple as a slip and fall where the head, face, neck, or other body parts make contact, resulting in an impulsive force being transmitted to the head.

A concussion is a brain injury and is defined as a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain induced by traumatic biomechanical forces. It is estimated that 3.8 million concussions occur in the US each year during competitive sports and recreation activities, with as many as 50 percent going unreported. There has also been a disturbingly steep rise in the number of concussions occurring in younger children and adolescents.

Common symptoms to watch for following any head trauma are: headaches, the feeling of being slowed down, difficulty concentrating, dizziness and sensitivity to light and noise.

Fortunately, 80 to 90 percent of those who experience a concussion will fully recover, with the majority of people recovering in seven to 10 days post injury. For the other 10 to 20 percent who have ongoing symptoms or post- concussion syndrome (symptoms lasting longer than three months), further treatment is often necessary.

Treatments for concussions are multifaceted and can include several professional disciplines including physicians, physiotherapists, massage therapists and occupational therapists, with each profession catering to specific parts of post- concussion rehabilitation.

As physiotherapists, we can assess and treat a variety of issues following a concussion, including muscle tightness and imbalances, headaches, dizziness and even balance disturbances in more severe cases.

Probably the most important part of our customized treatment programs for patients suffering from concussive symptoms is education for patients, parents, teachers, coaches and trainers. With various outcome measures and graduated return to play or school guidelines, we will work with you and your support team to get you through this difficult time, with the goal of successfully returning you to your sport, school or back to your everyday life, symptom-free.

Information for the article has been taken from lecture notes from concussion courses given by Jacquie van Ierssel and Shannon McGuire.

Originally Published: November 16, 2017

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Ed Dowling, BSc. HK, MPT, Contributor and Physiotherapist at Quinte Orthopaedics & Rehabilitation Specialists