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Sports Concussion is Nothing to Play With

by | October 30, 2012

Recent news stories have called attention to the risk of concussion in sports. For years, concussions have been downplayed by players and the public as one of those injuries that you should play through or ignore. What many do not realize is how serious concussions actually are and what should be done for a person with a concussion.

Brain injury causes more deaths than any other injury in sports and there are approximately 300,000 sports-related concussions yearly. Football players suffer the most concussions, accounting for 80% of all concussions and it is estimated that 4 – 45% of all football players will experience a concussion. While football players account for the majority of concussions, they are not the only ones at risk. Soccer players have a high risk of sustaining a concussion, mostly from heading the ball. A female basketball player is 200% more likely to sustain a concussion that a male basketball player. This is attributed to the fact that females generally have a smaller body mass and smaller neck muscles than their male counterparts. Athletes in equestrian sports and cycling are also have a high rate of concussion. Not all concussions are sports related as car accidents are another common cause.

With the increased attention to concussions in sports, we have a better understanding of the risk, but what exactly is a concussion? A concussion is an immediate and transient loss of brain function resulting from a trauma, with the main issues being a loss of consciousness, memory difficulties or a loss of motor skills, like balance or coordination. All concussions are cause for concern, but they can range from mild to severe. One can be caused by a blow to the head or even the body. Contact with another player, hitting a hard surface such as the ground, ice or floor, or being hit by a piece of equipment such as a bat, lacrosse stick or field hockey ball can all be the causes of a concussion. Concussions can occur during practice or competition in any sport, but the sports listed above have a higher incidence of concussion. A concussion can change the way an athlete’s brain works, but the symptoms can be different for each athlete.

You can’t see a concussion, but some of the symptoms might be immediately noticeable. Other symptoms can take hours or days after the injury to appear. Concussion symptoms include any combination of the following: amnesia, confusion, headache, loss of consciousness, balance problems or dizziness, double or fuzzy vision, sensitivity to light or noise, nausea (feeling that you might vomit), feeling sluggish, foggy or groggy, feeling unusually irritable or emotional, concentration or memory problems (forgetting game plays, facts, meeting times) and slowed reaction time.

If you think you have a concussion, don’t hide it. Tell your athletic trainer and coach and get checked out. You should also inform someone if you suspect that one of your teammates has a concussion if they are acting confused or uncoordinated, because you might just save their life. You should not participate in a game, practice or other activities if you have symptoms. Get checked out by your team physician, athletic trainer, board certified chiropractic neurologist or another trained healthcare professional because they can tell you if you are cleared to play or not. An important thing to remember is that aspirin should NOT be taken after a possible head injury because it causes thinning of the blood and can lead to tragic consequences. Unfortunately, there is no test to tell if you have a concussion and when it has healed, although more severe head injuries will get a CT scan at the hospital to rule out bleeding on the brain.

It is important that anyone sustaining a concussion rest.  Players should not resume playing a sport immediately after the injury occurs. If symptoms persist, medical attention should be sought. Proper evaluation and treatment can make a significant difference in recovering from a head injury. Delays in treatment can lead to a lasting condition known as Post-Concussion Syndrome, which will be addressed in next month’s issue of Healthy Living News.

Published in Healthy Living News – September 2012

CONCUSSION IS NOTHING TO PLAY AROUND WITH – PART 2

Concussions are not something to be taken lightly. It is critical that patients who sustain a concussion rest and allow the brain time to heal and during this recovery, a person should avoid physical exertion. Activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, or playing video games may cause concussion symptoms (such as headache or tiredness) to reappear or get worse. People who do not avoid physical or cognitive activities while recovering can cause symptoms to persist and become a chronic issue. While the brain is in the process of healing, the risk of having another concussion is greater and more importantly, a second concussion can result in more serious damage. Not only is permanent brain damage a possibility, but a condition known as Second Impact Syndrome is also possible. Second Impact Syndrome is a rare disorder but can result in immediate brain swelling and death within minutes. The second head trauma does not need to be severe to cause Second Impact Syndrome, and can result from nothing more than normal contact during a soccer game.

Most concussion symptoms subside in a two to seven days but symptoms that last more than two weeks can be considered “Post-Concussion Syndrome”. Treatment should be sought if symptoms last for more than two weeks. Symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome can include any of the symptoms of concussion, which includes neck pain, light and sound sensitivity, balance issues, trouble concentrating or irritability as well as other symptoms. There is no medication that is available to treat the symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome, but there are other treatment options available. Problems in the neck alone can be a cause for headaches, which may be resolved by treatments like chiropractic adjustments.

Post-Concussion Syndrome affects even elite athletes. There was a lot of news made this past winter when one of the stars of the NHL went to a chiropractic neurologist for treatment. Sydney Crosby is considered by many to be the best player in the NHL but was sidelined for several months due to the symptoms of Post-Concussion Syndrome. Crosby credited the treatment that he received from Dr. Frederick Carrick as one of the main reasons he returned to playing in the NHL and he even scored two goals in his first game back.

Many people are not aware that chiropractic has specialties. A chiropractic neurologist is a chiropractic physician who has completed an extra three years of study and passed a comprehensive written and practical examination. He is trained to diagnose and treat a variety of conditions, just as a medical neurologist is, but does so without the use of drugs or surgery. One of the conditions that a chiropractic neurologist can help with is Post-Concussion Syndrome. Treatment is based on a comprehensive history and neurological examination and can consist of chiropractic adjustments to the spine and/or extremities, eye exercises, balance and coordination activities, sensory training that may include light, sound, smell, or touch, physical exercises, nutritional modification as well as other treatments. All of these treatments are used to exercise and build strength in the connections of the brain. Very specific brain-based exercises are given to the patient for them to do on their own to help in their recovery.

As the only Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist in the Toledo area, I have dealt with many cases of Post-Concussion Syndrome. I recently assisted with the recovery of a 13 year-old male who had suffered from Post-Concussion Syndrome for two and half years after being struck in the back of the head with a baseball during practice. He had continued to practice and even played football with the symptoms. His symptoms of headaches, light and sound sensitivity, irritability and problems concentrating in school were all resolved after a few months of treatment. Another 17 year old hockey player had his headaches, neck pain and anxiety subside after proper neurological treatment and proper referrals to a mental health professional.

If you have suffered a concussion and have lasting symptoms, you need to seek help. Chances are that symptoms that last longer than just a couple week will not just go away on their own.

Published in Healthy Living News – September 2012

About Dr. Royer

Dr. Bryan D. Royer is uniquely trained to identify and treat these types of injuries as he is the only Board Certified Chiropractic Neurologist in the Toledo area and he is also a Certified Chiropractic Sports Physician®.  Both certifications required extensive post-graduate training and required Dr. Royer to pass a rigorous examination. He also the only provider in the area trained in Graston Technique®, which is very effective at treating acute and chronic injuries. As a Certified Kinesio Taping Practitioner, he is trained to apply the colorful tape as seen on the athletes during the London Olympics.

For more information on the treatment of concussion and how to prevent concussions or when you should go to the ER due to a concussion, click on the applicable hyperlink.

Call 419-517-5055 to make an appointment for evaluation of a concussion, or related conditions like a head or neck injury.

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