By |2018-10-03T15:19:51+00:00March 7th, 2017|Blog|

The media has gone concussion-crazy in recent times, thanks to significant stretches of games missed by athletes like NHL superstar Sidney Crosby.

But what really is a concussion? And can they be effectively treated?

A concussion is an injury to the brain that occurs from an acceleration/deceleration force on the brain. A force like this can be the result of a fall, a motor vehicle accident, or a sports-related injury. The impact can be directly to the head, or indirectly to the body, that causes the head to whip back and forth.

The head injury used to be thought of as a mere ‘brain bruise’, a consequence of the brain hitting the skull, and the symptoms being a result of the portion of the brain that got bruised. Concussions are now known to be caused by the stretching forces on the cells within the brain. This is why there can be a plethora of presenting symptoms, considering multiple areas within the brain can be affected.

Common concussion symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Neck Pain
  • Visual problems
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Fatigue
  • Changes in sleeping patterns
  • Mood changes
  • Nausea, dizziness
  • Cognitive difficulties
  • Not feeling like yourself

Can a concussion be treated?

Some people believe that the brain heals on it’s own and cannot be treated.

However, this is not entirely accurate. It is correct that you cannot accelerate the healing of the brain, but you can prevent prolonging the recovery of the organ. It is important that a concussion management practitioner educates individuals suffering from a concussion on what they can and cannot do, how to properly rest the brain, and how to re-integrate themselves into school/work and physical activities. This provides a safe environment for the brain to heal without potential for further injury, and prevents a prolonged recovery time. Furthermore, concussion symptoms can be treated and may only improve with treatment.

Rehabilitation includes:

  • Physical therapy for associated complaints such as headaches and neck pain
  • Visual coordination and tracking Rehabilitation
  • Balance, Coordination and Vestibular Rehabilitation
  • Physical exertion testing and exercise plans
  • Guided return to learn, work and sport

What should you do if you think you are suffering from a concussion?

If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms, you should make an appointment with a concussion management practitioner as soon as possible.

It is recommended to see a concussion specialist within 24 hours of impact. An assessment will be completed in order to diagnose a concussion and provide education, recommendations, and a treatment plan going forward. It is important to rest the brain from both physical and mental exertion, meaning avoiding school, work, and any physical activity until cleared by a concussion management practitioner. Your practitioner’s goal is to promote healing, decrease symptoms, and to return you to your daily activities as quickly and as safely as possible.

Baseline testing

All athletes should complete a baseline test annually in order to have data reflecting their healthy state. If the athlete sustains a concussion, the baseline data can then be compared to them post-injury to determine when the brain has fully recovered, and when they are safe to return to sport.

It is important that the baseline test is comprehensive. There are cheap baseline test options available, however they tend to be insufficient when utilizing quick, computerized testing that does not evaluate all brain functions.

SEMI is proud to deliver comprehensive baseline testing to their athletes and non-athletes alike. Our baseline tests incorporate multiple areas of brain functioning with both cognitive and physical components.

Contact SEMI today to book an appointment for a concussion assessment, baseline test, or to receive further information on our revamped Concussion Program!

About: Dr. Douglas Stoddard is a sports medicine physician and is the Medical Director of the Sports & Exercise Medicine Institute (SEMI). After receiving his medical degree from the University of Toronto, he trained in Australia at the Australian Institute of Sport in Canberra, obtaining his Master Degree in Sports Medicine. He is also a diplomat of the Canadian Academy of Sport and Exercise Medicine and has his focussed practice designation in Sport Medicine from the Ontario Medical Association. Dr. Stoddard is a consultant to the Canadian Military and has consulted with well over 30,000 unique patients in his career. Dr. Stoddard is constantly searching for new and promising therapies to help SEMI patients, and is responsible for developing the RegenerVate Medical Injection Therapy Program. He is married and the proud father of two boys, is an avid triathlete and occasional guitar player.

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