Friday Night Lights: What You Need to Know About Concussions
Fall sports began this month in many areas of the country, marking both an exciting and anxious time for parents of student athletes.
A single concussion can have lasting repercussions on mental health, intellectual functioning, and physical functioning. Multiple concussions only increase these risks. And with so much conflicting data available on the internet, it can be tough to know how to manage a concussion should your student athlete suffer from one.
According to Blue Cross Blue Shield’s 2016 Health of America Report on concussions, the incidence of concussions among adolescents between the ages of 10-19 rose a staggering 71 percent between 2010 and 2015. For girls, the incidence spiked 119 percent during that time, though almost twice as many concussions were diagnosed in boys.
These rising numbers can undoubtedly be attributed to a growing awareness of concussion symptoms and risks among athletes, parents, coaches, and the like, who now know what to look for in their student athletes. But, there has also been a steady rise in head injuries in adolescents.
How Do I Tell if My Student Athlete Has a Concussion?
One of the challenges of diagnosing concussions is that symptoms can occur at different times. For some people, they appear instantly, but for others it can be hours or even days.
Symptoms also vary from person to person. There are a number of signs and symptoms to be aware of, including the following:
- Balance Issues
- Visual Disturbances
- Light and/or Noise Sensitivity
- Head and Neck Pain Nausea
- Trouble Focusing & Concentrating
- Memory Issues
- Slow Response
- Decreased or Increased Sleep
- Difficulty Falling Asleep
- Difficulty Staying Asleep
I Know My Student Athlete Has a Concussion. How Do I Manage It?
Though there has been an increase in awareness in recent years, 80% of Americans don’t know concussions are treatable, or the proper steps to follow after an injury is sustained.
In years past, rest, minimal exposure to light and sound, and limited physical exertion were recommended. But, did you know those guidelines were set as a result of a study published in The Journal of Bone & Joint Surgery in 1968?
Today, the guidelines, based off a April 2017 study published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine, are totally different:
- No bed rest or prolonged rest – return to gradual and progressive activity are encouraged.
- Reading, texting, and screen time are allowed.
- Return to school and cognitive challenges is encouraged.
- ImPACT Testing is not predictive of return to sport or normal activity.
So, How Do I Identify a Concussion Expert?
Find someone who is up on the research! This person should be prepared to treat more than the visible signs and symptoms, like headache or neck pain… you need someone that’s also prepared to evaluate the emotional, vestibular, visual, cognitive, and exertional aspects. There are many medical trainees who have not been properly educated on the identification and management of concussions.
At Pappas OPT Hand and Physical Therapy, our expert Sports Certified Specialists, physical therapists, and athletic trainers are trusted by the area’s top neurologists to provide concussion management services. We use evidence-based training and the most up-to-date research to provide cutting-edge treatment and ease your worry.