Parenthood is an exciting time; locking your eyes for the first time on your newborn, watching your child take their first steps, or sending them down the path towards the Kindergarten doors are rewarding moments. Whether these memories are embedded into your memory or filed away on your flash drive to refer back they are memories worth revisiting when feeling nostalgic. If only parenthood was filled with all of these warm and fuzzy feelings. Unfortunately, this parental role does come with other less desirable moments that can induce fear, frustration, sadness, or moments of helplessness. For the purpose of this article we will focus on the age group of the middle school years and high school. These developmental years come with their own set of problems: bullying, peer pressure and academic pressures. Well with the increase of concussion injuries, this can now be added to the parental “worry list.”
Hopefully, at the end of reading this article the following information we will provide will leave you feeling equipped and prepared should this unforeseen event take place. We will cover, what a concussion is, the startling statistics, the symptoms, and our treatment solutions to ease your concerns. Some parent’s will forbid their child in taking part in any contact sports and the reality is that this option isn’t feasible. Concussions do occur outside of youth sports. Let’s take a more positive, informative approach and focus on how sports benefits with character building, self-esteem, teamwork, as well as having a treatment plan in place so that your child can return to what they love; sports or any other everyday activity.
What is a concussion?
It is a brain injury that occurs when the brain is violently shaken either during rapid movement changes (such as whiplash) or when the head is hit. This unpredicted occurrence can result in immediate or delayed changes in the brain’s chemistry and function.
What are the signs of a concussion?
Symptoms due vary person to person and are not limited to the list below. The importance of bringing these symptoms to a certified “concussion specialist” can make all the difference in the recovery time. Familiarizing yourself with these symptoms, is the first step in empowering yourself as a parent. Also, keep in mind that symptoms may not necessarily appear immediately after the incident:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Delayed response to questions
- Appearing dazed
- Concentration and memory complaints
- Irritability and other personality changes
Some Startling Statistics From Youth Sports Safety Alliance
- In soccer, the rate of concussions among girls was 68 percent higher than the rate of concussions in boys, and in basketball the rate of concussions among girls was 293 percent higher than the rate of concussion in boys.
- During 2001-2009, an estimated 2,651,581 children aged ≤19 years were treated annually for sports and recreation-related injuries. Approximately 6.5 percent, or 173,285 of these injuries, were TBIs.
- 400,000 brain injuries (concussions) occurred in high school athletics during the 2008-09 school year.
- Emergency department visits for concussions sustained during organized team sports doubled among 8-13 year olds between 1997 and 2007 and nearly tripled among older youth.
- Concussion rates more than doubled among students age 8-19 participating in sports like basketball, soccer and football between 1997 and 2007, even as participation in those sports declined.
- 15.8 percent of football players who sustain a concussion severe enough to cause loss of consciousness return to play the same day.
- A 2011 study of U.S. high schools with at least one athletic trainer on staff found that concussions accounted for nearly 15 percent of all sports-related injuries reported to athletic trainers.
- High school athletes who have been concussed are three times more likely to suffer another concussion in the same season.
- Females aged 10-19 years sustained sports- and recreation-related TBIs most often while playing soccer or basketball or while bicycling.
- More than 248,000 children visited hospital emergency departments in 2009 for concussions and other traumatic brain injuries related to sports and recreation.
- Injuries associated with participation in sports and recreational activities account for 21 percent of all traumatic brain injuries among children in the United States.
Based on these numbers, I can see why there is a growing concern to our local parents, teachers, and athletic providers and coaches.
Good News!!! There are several treatment options now available at Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation
Recovery varies from person to person as so too does the treatment plan. Given this information, MPR has several concussion related treatment plans at our disposal to pull from given the varying degrees of brain injury. Below are the different treatment options made available via the varied practitioners we have onsite.
ImPACT concussion testing:
All of our practitioners are ImPACT™ trained having officially completed the program’s criteria to administer baseline testing. The ImPACT™ Concussion Management Model is grounded in science and is cutting edge in the field of neurocognitive testing. This test evaluates and manages concussion and comes in two forms:
Baseline Test: this is administered prior to an injury and stored on a HIPPA compliant server. This is re-administered every 2 years.
Post-Injury Test: administered after a concussion is suspected and these results are compared to the base-line results.
Having a baseline concussion test is an important piece to concussion management because the results of this test can be compared to an individual’s post-injury test scores. This is a more accurate assessment because without a baseline test your post-injury test could only be compared to the general population which isn’t the most ideal scenario.
Often when we think of head injury we often think that this impact is limited to the head, but in actuality this isn’t the case. The common signs and symptoms of concussions mentioned earlier in this article often times overlap with those symptoms of the cervical spine dysfunction. These persistent symptoms following concussion can be associated with injury to the soft tissue surrounding the neck and upper back. In addition to the ImPACT testing, chiropractic care utilizing spinal manipulative therapy of restricted cervical joints, myofascial release of affected muscles, localized vibrational therapy and low velocity mobilizations have shown to be effective treatment with concussion injury.
Physical Therapy Treatment:
Not only is our team of physical therapist ImPACT trained, but they can also compliment this test with a few other therapeutic options to choose from. They have found success utilizing vestibular therapy aimed at stopping dizziness and improving balance; as well as exertion training goals focused on reintroducing the vestibular system to activity in a precise way. The physical therapist will also:
- Assess the level of limitation for rest and recovery
- Restore strength and endurance due to muscle weakness due to lack of activity
- Evaluate and eliminate headaches with the use of electrical stimulation and other motion activities
- Assess the re-entry to normal activity
The beauty of our facility is, depending on the modality that you are most comfortable with as well as a full assessment of your rehabilitation goals, we have so much to choose from! Several of our patients really enjoy the benefits of acupuncture and there has been many studies that have shown its success with the concussion recovery.
Generally, acupuncture is known to treat headaches, insomnia, irritability, anxiety, and pain. The before mentioned symptoms are generally the same symptoms experienced in someone with a head injury. Nerve blockages can result from a concussion and acupuncture often assists in restoring the movement of electrical signals along the affected nerve.
In Eastern Medicine, each major organ has an energy meridian connecting that specific organ with the brain, limbs and other areas of the body. Wherever there is an injury, the meridian gets damaged and blocked at the injury site which then prevents the good energy circulating along its pathway. Head and neck injuries prevent proper circulation of blood and energy in and out of the head which can cause headaches and other symptoms associated with post-concussion syndrome.
Our acupuncturist’s goal is to restore normal energy and blood circulation by stimulating the appropriate acupuncture points of the damaged and injured meridians.
What’s the difference between MPR’s approach to concussions and other approaches?
MPR not only utilizes the ImPACT test results, but has an arsenal of other modalities such as physical therapy, chiropractic, and acupuncture to compliment a concussion treatment plan. The return to normal activity is a delicate balance and one that our team takes seriously. Returning to quickly can interfere with the healing of the brain and can make your symptoms return. Don’t take the chance; partner up with us.
In closing, a concussion may be unavoidable and a parent’s worst fear. Assessment along with a caring team of professional with you every step of the way CAN make all the difference in how you view a concussion and your own stress level as a caretaker. We have the means to get your child back to whatever they enjoyed pre-injury without running the risk of a premature re-entry.
Dr. Nichole Chaviano, PT, DPT at MPR Shrewsbury location, has witnessed a rise in head injuries due to sports, slip and falls and auto accidents. Dr. Nichole explains, “The results from this test along with our other MPR treatment options will be helpful in communicating the post-concussion status to athletes, coaches, parents, and other clinicians. Additionally, ImPACT™ as well will also serve as a valuable tool to teachers in making decisions about academic goals during recovery.”
Monmouth Pain and Rehabilitation is introducing this invaluable tool to the community by offering FREE baseline testing ($75 value) at their Shrewsbury and Wall Township locations. For more information about ImPACT™, visit www.monmouthpain.com or call 732-345-1377.