As clinical experts in concussion rehab in Midtown, we want you to know the signs, urge kids to speak up, and respond appropriately to reduce complications associated with concussions
When it comes to sports, there doesn’t seem to be a topic out there that’s attracting attention quite like concussions. From news headlines of professional sports athletes who have suffered concussions, to discussions among parents regarding their child’s risk in youth sports, and at just about every level in between, the conversation about these brain injuries is ongoing and everywhere. As a result, awareness of the dangers associated with concussions is increasing rapidly and many individuals are making concerted efforts to react and respond accordingly. But a great deal of action is still needed in order to spread accurate information and encourage people to make smart decisions after every possible concussion.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a direct or indirect hit to the head or elsewhere in the body that aggressively moves the brain within the skull. Your brain is surrounded by fluid, and when the head takes a hit, it shifts or shakes around inside the skull and can bang against its sides. This sudden movement can stretch and damage brain tissue and trigger a series of harmful chemical and cellular changes that may go on to interfere with normal brain activities.
Concussions and Concussion Rehab in Midtown – Separating Myth from Fact
One of the most unfortunate consequences of all the discussion and attention on concussions is that some of the information out there is either misleading or frankly incorrect. As a result, this has led to a great deal of misconceptions that can, in turn, make people less equipped to respond appropriately when a suspected concussion does occur. To combat this, we debunk 6 of the most common myths about concussions and provide you with the actual facts behind them:
- Myth #1: Concussions can only occur as a result of a direct blow to the head
- Fact: Concussions can be caused by a direct blow to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere on the body if the force of the impact is transmitted to the head
- Myth #2: Only athletes in aggressive contact sports like football, hockey, and lacrosse suffer concussions
- Fact: While concussion rates are the highest in contact sports, they also occur frequently in boys and girls soccer and basketball, as well as cheerleading
- Myth #3: A concussion only occurs when an athlete loses consciousness
- Fact: The vast majority of concussions—up to 95%—do not result in a loss of consciousness
- Myth #4: A player who sustains a blow to the head that results in a stunned, confusional state but gets better within minutes—often called getting “dinged”—hasn’t suffered a concussion
- Fact: This is one of the biggest myths about concussions and is flat out false, as any type of “confusional state” is suggestive of a concussion, and in many cases, symptoms don’t appear until hours or even weeks later
- Myth #5: Older people are more susceptible to concussions
- Fact: Children are more likely to suffer from a TBI than adults, and their symptoms can be far more severe and longer-lasting; this may be due to younger brains being more susceptible to concussions and requiring more time to properly recover
- Myth #6: All concussions are the same
- Fact: No two concussions are identical, and symptoms can be extremely different from person to person based on a number of factors, including the degree of force and location of the impact, number of previous concussions, and the time between injuries
- For additional myths and misconceptions about concussions, click here
Understanding how to properly identify the signs and symptoms of a concussion
Concussions are different from other injuries to the body in a number of ways, and one of the biggest differences is in how symptoms appear. After an injury like an ankle sprain, an athlete will usually experience a very specific set of symptoms right away that can be identified and addressed appropriately. But this process is not nearly as straightforward after the majority of concussions.
As mentioned above, the signs and symptoms associated with a concussion may not appear until hours, days, or even weeks after the initial trauma has been sustained. To make matters even more complicated, there is a wide range of possible symptoms that can develop after a concussion, and these may differ drastically from one patient to the next. Below are some of the many symptoms that may arise after a concussion:
- Headache, migraine, or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Dizziness or “seeing stars”
- Confusion or feeling as if “in a fog”
- Slurred speech
- Ringing in the ears
Additional symptoms that may not be detectable until days after the traumatic event include concentration and memory issues, irritability and other personality changes, sensitivity to light and noise, changes in mood, sleep disturbances, depression, and disorders of taste and smell. So as you can see, identifying concussions alone is not as easy as it may seem, but it’s important to consider what may be at stake when these injuries are not recognized and dealt with properly.
One of the biggest risks associated with these injuries is returning to high-risk sports like football and soccer too soon after a concussion. About 80-90% of concussions heal on their own within 7-10 days, but longer periods of rest are often needed for children and adolescents because their brains are still developing. When a player does return to their respective sport before completely recovering and being cleared to do so through a concussion protocol, it can lead to delayed healing, increased odds of additional concussions, and long-term physical and mental effects. On top of that, there is a rare but often fatal condition called Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) that can develop when someone suffers a second concussion before the first one has completely healed.
Another major hurdle: urging kids to speak up about concussions so if they are in central NYC, they can get the appropriate concussion rehab in Midtown
But even with all of these risks in mind, when it comes to concussions in youth athletes, there is yet another hurdle that needs to be overcome: making sure they actually report all possible concussions when they do occur. According to a 2016 study on high school football players, only about half of the players surveyed said they would report a lingering headache or other common symptoms of a concussion after an injury to the head. The issue here appears to be that young athletes may be concerned with looking weak and possibly lose the respect or approval of their peers, especially if their injury doesn’t turn out to be a concussion. Another important consideration is the fact that concussions cannot be seen like other bodily injuries, which could make younger individuals feel as if others may not recognize their condition as a result.
This alone may be one of the greatest challenges to overcome in improving concussion management, but parents and coaches can still do their part in helping to spread accurate information and teach kids why recognizing and reporting concussions is so important. Here are some essential tips to follow any time you may be dealing with a concussion:
- Parents and coaches should stress the importance of following the rules in each sport and avoiding any possible chance of direct contact to the head
- Encourage kids to not play through head injuries that might go unnoticed on the sidelines and to report any strange behavior from teammates
- Ensure that helmets and all other protective gear fits properly and is being used appropriately during sports that require it
- After any blow to the head, the athlete should immediately be evaluated by a trained coach or medical professional for signs of a concussion including persistent headache, dizziness, nausea, or sensitivity to light or noise
- If a concussion is confirmed, stop participation in sports immediately and have a full-scale analysis by a medical professional; the brain is most vulnerable in the first 10 days after a concussion, and in most cases, it’s dangerous to return to play during this period of time
- 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
- Each state has a specific set of guidelines regarding concussion assessment and criteria for returning to play; after any concussion, parents coaches and athletes must follow these guidelines to ensure a safe return to competition
- Exercises that strengthen neck muscles, teaching appropriate techniques like how to properly tackle in football and warning team members 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 a physical therapist that specializes in vestibular rehabilitation
From diagnosis to treatment
If a concussion is suspected, the next step should always be to send the individual to a doctor or physical therapist for an evaluation. Unfortunately, there is no single test or tool to diagnose all concussions, and advanced imaging tests like MRIs and CT scans are not typically used because they don’t often show any brain abnormalities. Instead, your doctor or physical therapist will perform a series of tests to evaluate your hearing, vision, reflexes, balance and coordination, memory, and attention span to determine if any of these areas have been affected. The clinician will also ask several questions about the injury and any symptoms that have arisen since then that may be indicative of a concussion.
Clinicians will then use this information to determine if a concussion has occurred, and if so, the level of severity. They will also be able to tell if the symptoms are primarily related to issues with the patient’s neck, their vision, or their vestibular (balance) system, and from here, a specific treatment plan can be established that targets these dysfunctions. Since no two concussions are alike, the treatment strategies needed will also be different for each patient, but the more information a clinician has, the better they can target the interventions for each patient.
This is why one of the best decisions you can make is to is actively pursue concussion rehab in Midtown at Dynamic Sports Physical Therapy, any time a suspected concussion occurs. Our physical therapists are experts at diagnosing concussions and determining the best course of treatment forward based on what regions of the body have been impaired by the injury. So if you or your child has recently suffered a suspicious injury and has been displaying signs of a concussion, contact us at
(212) 317-8303 to schedule an appointment today.
You can also click here to read our next article in this three-part concussion series on why vestibular and vision therapy are often needed to address concussions.