Sports Rehabilitation for concussions is very common today as there are an estimated 3.8 million sports related traumatic brain injuries per year in the United States.
By definition a concussion is a result of a blow to the head or a force that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Concussions are common to sports such as football, ice hockey and soccer but can be a result of a motor vehicle accident or fall.
It is extremely important for coaches to recognize the immediate signs of a concussion so that the athlete can get the proper care needed to recover and prevent complications.
Here in this article we will discuss the signs, symptoms, sports rehabilitation and prevention of concussions.
The most recognizable signs of a concussion when there is evidence of a blow to the head are (1) loss of consciousness (2) confusion (3) vomiting (4) headache (5) change in speech and (6) change in gait pattern or loss of balance. Any of these signs are clear indications that the activity must be stopped and medical attention is required,
After sustaining a concussion some of the common symptoms evident are (1) frequent headaches (2) blurry vision (3) fatigue (4) dizziness especially with changing position (5) tinnitus or ringing in ear (6) confusion (7) weakness (8) loss of balance and coordination difficulties (9) cognitive issues or memory loss and (10) difficulty getting a nights sleep.
If a patient with post concussion syndrome has persistent dizziness and balance difficulty he must seek a qualified vestibular sports rehabilitation or physical therapist. Vestibular rehabilitation has to be considered in the management of post concussion patients where the symptoms of dizziness or gait disorder has not improved with rest. Physical therapists have balance equipment and certain exercises to stimulate the inner ear and its pathways with the brain. Vestibular exercises concentrate on head and eye motion with body movement.
Sports rehabilitation must implement a program to reduce headaches. Reducing headaches is related to decreasing the muscle tension in the cervical region. This can be accomplished by relaxing the neck musculature by the use of modalities, introducing postural and strengthening exercises.
Poor posture associated with post concussion syndrome is directly related to mechanical stress on the cervical spine. This can be a direct source of headaches noted with concussions.
When the physical therapist sees the post concussion patient improve through vestibular training the next step is to work on the muscle weakness. A progressive resistive exercise program utilizing free weights and equipment is usually implemented. Equipment can include machines that build up the strength of the upper and lower extremities As strength in the arms and legs improves the patient should show signs of an improved gait.
Sports rehabilitation must also include aerobic exercises to build up the endurance in the post concussion patient.
The best prevention for concussion is to wear protective head gear when you are engaging in sports or activities where a head injury can occur. It is also important to wear and maintain head gear properly. Ensure that the head gear is certified by the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).
Athletes must avoid using the head as the primary focal point of contact especially in football. Proper tackling instruction is a must . Studies have shown that athletes with strong neck muscles have a lower rate of concussions.
It is important that a concussion patient follow the recommendations of the sports rehabilitation specialist so that you can achieve the greatest amount of recovery.