What you need to know about concussion in sport

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Did you know that up to 19.5% of adolescents reported at least one concussion in their lifetime (Veliz et al., 2017) or that 1 in 5 sports-related injuries involve a concussion!

In sport, Rugby Union has the highest rate of concussions in match play or training, and in Australia other sports such as AFL, Rugby League, Football (soccer) and Snow based sports have shown the greatest incidence of concussions.

Also, more than half of concussions are not reported in sports!

At Precision Athletica in Sydney, we take concussion very seriously and we’re certified with the Complete Concussion Management organisation to provide concussion treatment, baseline testing and return to play services.

So, if you play sport, here is a whole lot of vital information for you to know about concussion!

What is a concussion?

It is defined as “A traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical forces.” It is a form of brain injury that causes a temporary disturbance in how your brain functions. Concussions happen because of a hit, bump or blow to the head or elsewhere on the body. This impact causes the brain to move back and forth inside the skull.

Recognising concussion

Concussions are often difficult to recognise. The signs and symptoms can vary and often don’t require a ‘big hit’ for an athlete to be suspected of a concussion. Concussion can be expected where there is a knock to the head or body that transmits a force to the head, and some obvious signs of concussion might be a loss of consciousness, brief convulsions or difficulty balancing or walking.

However, the signs of concussion can be more subtle.

Common symptoms of concussion:

  • Headache
  • Feeling like in a ‘fog’
  • LOC
  • Amnesia
  • Neurological deficit
  • Balance disturbances
  • Slowed reaction times
  • Irritability
  • Drowsiness

Myths about concussion

  • You must be hit in the head to suffer a concussion – FALSE. Tackles to the body and bodychecks can also cause concussion!
  • Wearing safety gear such as helmets and face protection will reduce the likelihood of a concussion – FALSE
  • Neck strengthening exercises will help to prevent concussion – FALSE
  • If you don’t lose consciousness, you haven’t suffered a concussion – FALSE. 90% of sports related concussions have no loss of consciousness!

Long-term consequences of concussion

The long-term consequences of concussion are still relatively unknown. The is some evidence to show that multiple concussions can potentially result in cognitive deficits later in life. Currently in the media there is a lot of talk about concussion and the link to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE). CTE is thought to be a progressive neurodegenerative disease associated with repeated concussive and sub concussive blows to the head. While currently there is no reliable evidence that supports the link between concussion and CTE, further well-designed studies are needed in this area.

How do you treat a concussion?

Rest is not longer the best practice for recovery. Types of treatment include:

  • Manual therapy
  • Exercise therapy
  • Individualised nutrition plan
  • Vestibular
  • Visual therapy

What to do if you suspect a concussion?

If you do suspect an athlete has suffered a concussion, remove the athlete from the game/training immediately. From there a medical practitioner with concussion training (e.g. Sports Physician or Physiotherapist) should assess the athlete to rule out any other serious pathology. If a concussion is diagnosed the athlete should not play and concussion management should be started.

Concussion Management at Precision Athletica in Sydney

Our clinic is certified with the Complete Concussion Management organisation to provide concussion treatment, baseline testing and return to play services. For more information about concussion please email our physiotherapist Joe Marincel – joseph.m@precisionathletica.com.au Or to book in for an assessment visit our website or by calling 0297645787.

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