With all the recent news coverage and sports medicine updates on Concussion management, it is becoming clearer to all of us that concussions are a serious concern to our athletes.

What is a concussion?

It is a traumatic brain injury that happens with a rapid motion of the head, or a direct blow to the skull. Some athlete’s have described this as getting their bell “rung” or other similar descriptions. Athletes of all ages are at risk for concussions, and different sports have varying degrees of risk. Most people think of the NFL and football when we talk about concussions, but it doesn’t stop there.

Why are female athletes more at risk?

There are some theories to explain why concussion rates for female athletes are higher than their male counterparts, but at the time of this writing there hasn’t been any hard evidence to prove any of these.

Some possible reasons: 1) Female athletes may be better at reporting their symptoms and seeking help  2) Females have a smaller mass of the head and neck, making it more difficult to absorb the injury  3) Females may have less developed neck muscles, which may lead to less control of the head during impact

Preventing and Treating Concussions

Prevention is KEY. Talking to coaches, athletic trainers, parents, athletes, Physical Therapists and others about the importance of concussions and ways to prevent them. Some of these prevention strategies include wearing the right protective gear, playing by the league rules, and making sure athletes are conditioned properly for their chosen sport.

Recovering correctly from a concussion is serious business. Recovery generally includes a period of “shutting down”- both physically and mentally. Athletes must rest from academics and from athletics– and that means no video games or cell phones too! The brain needs a period of rest. Following this, the athlete will slowly resume activities under proper guidance of a physician, athletic trainer and physical therapist team. The athlete should only return to activity when formally cleared by the team.

Avoiding re-injury is important too. Studies show that players who have one concussion have a greater chance of having another one. With repeated concussions athletes may experience memory loss and difficulty thinking and concentrating.

What’s the Risk?

Soccer- research shows female soccer is second only to male football players for the number of concussions each year. Concussions can be caused by falls, player to player impact, and from heading the ball repeatedly.

Cheerleading- high level techniques like throwing cheerleaders high in the air have led to an increase in concussions in cheerleading

Basketball- player to player contact and hitting the head on the floor may cause concussion

Skiiing/Snowboarding- high speed falls and collisions are potential for concussions

Softball- player to player collisions, sliding, and being hit by a ball are potential for concussions

Volleyball- player to player impact, and being hit by the ball or hitting the head on the court are potential problems

Prevention Strategies at Bodycentral Physical Therapy and the Ultimate Sports Asylum

Because of the prevalence of the concussion problem in female athletes, we are teaming with experts in the field to develop concussion prevention strategies and programs for athletes of all ages. For more information on these programs, please contact Dr. Jennifer Allen at info@bodycentralpt.net