When you hear the topic of concussions come up, the first sport that probably comes to mind is football. This reaction is quite typical, and it makes sense, since football is responsible for the majority of sports-related concussions. But even though football seems to get most of the attention around concussions, it’s important to remember that it’s not the only sport in which they occur. The truth is, concussions can happen in just about any sport that involves contact, and high rates are also seen in lacrosse, ice hockey and wrestling. This means that no matter the sport season, our New York City physical therapists think it’s important to be conscious of the dangers and signs of concussions, and to know what to do if one occurs.
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results from the brain moving rapidly and banging against the side of the skull. These sudden movements can damage brain tissue and trigger a series of harmful changes that may interfere with normal brain functioning. Of the more than 1 million TBIs that are reported every year, more than half occur in youth sports, which makes the need for prevention and treatment of these injuries even greater for younger athletes.
Surprisingly enough, about 33% of sports-related concussions occur at practice rather than during a game or match. This is particularly crucial to keep in mind when young athletes who participate in camps and clinics throughout the summer, as it shows there’s no “offseason” in which concussions don’t happen. After an athlete does sustain a concussion, symptoms will usually subside after about a week, but this does not necessarily mean no damage has been done. Depending on its severity, some concussions can lead to long-term complications that need to be addressed.
How to stay vigilant about concussions from our New York City physical therapists
Though it’s impossible to prevent all concussions, the best strategy is to take steps to reduce their likelihood and to clearly know their signs and symptoms. Below are some essential steps from our New York City physical therapists to help you stay smart about concussions year-round:
- Symptoms of a concussion may include difficulty concentrating, headache, fatigue, forgetfulness, dizziness and/or trouble sleeping; in some cases these symptoms can take hours or days to appear, so keep a watchful eye for them
- After any serious blow to the head, athletes should be evaluated for symptoms; if a concussion is confirmed, they should be taken out of gameplay and evaluated by a medical professional, as it’s very dangerous to return to play within the first 10 days after a concussion
- The best treatment for a concussion is simply rest and time; young athletes should not return to sports until they’re cleared by their doctor
- Parents and coaches should make it a focus to ensure young athletes are obeying the rules, wearing proper equipment, playing safely and not pushing through any possible head injuries to lower concussion risk
- Teaching young athletes neck-strengthening exercises, appropriate techniques—like how to properly tackle in football—and warning them about aggressive play are also ways to reduce the likelihood of a concussion
- Be aware of post-concussion syndrome, which is when symptoms like dizziness and headache last longer than two weeks; for young athletes with these lingering symptoms, it’s best to see our New York City physical therapists for a vestibular rehabilitation program
Much is being done to increase awareness of concussions and reduce athletes’ risk for experiencing them, but there’s still a ways to go. The best thing you can do is to play your part and make sure others around you are doing the same to keep your children’s heads safe during athletic play. If your child recently suffered a concussion and you’re interested in a vestibular rehabilitation program, or for any other painful conditions you may be dealing with, contact Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy in New York City at 212-317-8303 to schedule an appointment today, or click here for more information on sports-related concussions.