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Athletes and Concussions – A Physical Therapist’s Point of View

There’s winter, spring, summer, fall, and of course my favorite season- Football!

As the season kicks off and the grid-iron excitement returns, so does the seriousness and risks of concussions to athletes. As a physical therapist, I often witness athletes, coaches and sports enthusiast make light of the effects of concussions. I enjoy the hard- hitting, neck- snapping action as much as the next guy but consideration of players’ safety and well-being should be paramount. The bottom line is, the severity and complications of concussions are REAL!

Concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity so all coaches, parents, and athletes should be able to recognize the symptoms. Whether you’re in middle school, the NCAA or the NFL- here are the facts.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
• Headaches
• Dizziness
• Balance impairment
• Fatigue
• Nausea
• Blurred vision
• Difficulty sleeping
• Loss of memory and ability to concentrate
• Mood swings
• Depression and Anxiety

The Centers for Disease Control estimates that more than 3 million concussions occur each year. One of the most common myths is that a person must become unconscious in order to suffer from a concussion. Actually, 90% of concussions occur without loss of consciousness. Here are a few other important things every athlete should know:
• Concussion symptoms DON’T always show up right away.
• Concussions can occur without direct head impact.
• Most concussions occur during regular contact and can be frequent.

Concussions are considered to be a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and should not be taken lightly. Symptoms may seem mild but the injury can lead to significant life-long impairment affecting an individual’s memory, behavior, learning, and/or emotions. Proper diagnosis and management are crucial.

How can physical therapy help?
No two concussions are the same so it is important to have a thorough assessment by a physical therapist to allow him/her to develop a customized treatment plan to your specific injury. A therapist can provide therapeutic solutions to headaches, neck and spine injuries as well as balance impairment and dizziness which are often associated with concussions.

If you or a loved one has suffered from a concussion and would like more information on treatment and prevention, visit the Center for Disease Control and Prevention. For more info on the benefits of physical and occupational therapy treatment, you can contact me at wyatt@ergooccmed.com or visit us on Facebook or at www.ergooccmed.com.

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