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With the end of Summer coming closer, football season will be here soon. As enjoyable as it is to watch teams compete on the field, in the background, there is frequent talk about the concussion injuries surrounding the sport. For those participating or who have loved ones playing this Fall, it is a great time to review some of the symptoms associated with this low-level traumatic brain injury. Concussions occur when a forceful impact causes the brain to shift within the skull. Some theories suggest this causes a bruising effect on the brain, while others would state that the injury is a stretching of the neurons within the brain. Either way, it is important to recognize the symptoms associated with the injury. Among the most common symptoms observed are headaches, dizziness, and confusion. Be aware of increased sensitivity to light and sound. Changes in mental capacity and personality may also be present in someone who has suffered a concussion and could last for weeks after the incident. Coaches and athletic trainers are trained to identify these signs and screen athletes for the presence of such an injury. Despite this, it is always possible that an injury can be missed, so go over these symptoms. Remember that major contact sports like hockey and football are not the only activities that have concussion risk. In fact, soccer is the leading cause of concussions in females. Other non-contact sports, falls, and motor vehicle collisions can also lead to concussions. There is always a risk in the mountains as well. Keep this in mind when you are biking, snowboarding, or skiing. Too many people are out there without helmets. I see it all the time. Your brain is too valuable for you not to protect it when on the trails or slopes. It doesn’t matter if you are staying out of the trees. It doesn’t matter if you are avoiding the crowded areas. Any kind of fall can potentially cause damage. Don’t risk your health. Always wear a helmet.

Be sure to let a healthcare provider or someone trained in first aid (think ski patrol or park ranger) know if you suspect a concussion may have occurred. They will do a screen to assess the situation. In physical therapy, concussions can be addressed as the brain heals. Balance and dizziness issues can be treated. Meanwhile, preventative measures can be taken by addressing neck and core strength. The corresponding increase in strength and response time will make a concussion less likely with later collisions or falls. Education will be provided on any methods that might be available to minimize collisions that can result in concussion. Your therapist will work in conjunction with a neurologist and possibly other providers to ensure that you have the best opportunity to return to your normal routine without any lingering symptoms. It is imperative that the brain is allowed to heal before returning to normal activity. Any further damage that occurs before the brain has healed can lead to more permanent consequences.

If you want more info, please email me at scott@backcountry.physio or reach out on Backcountry Physical Therapy’s social media pages. Be sure to check back on the website for more blog posts and follow us on social media for helpful tips to keep yourself painfree!