Archive for “Brain” Tag

Concussion Prevention: A Pro-Active Approach

 

Concussion Prevention For Young Athletes

 

concussion for high school young athletes

 

By Jim Kielbaso

 

The concussion problem in sports has reached epidemic proportions. The NFL is spending millions on awareness and just instituted new practice rules to reduce the number of blows the players are exposed to during practices. Several high school athletic associations are also implementing new rules to deal with the issue. So far, everything has focused on how to deal with the athlete after the concussion, but there is now a movement to help educate athletes, parents and coaches about sports concussions and what can be done to prevent or avoid them. We’ll never be able to eliminate concussions from sports, but there are certainly things we can do to help reduce the forces our brain encounters.

 


There are really four basic components of concussion prevention:

 

    1. Protective equipment – In most sports, this means properly fit, quality helmets and mouth pieces. Unfortunately, no equipment or training currently known to us will eliminate concussions. “The best helmet on the market can still lead to injuries of the head including concussions,” said Scott Peck, a certified athletic trainer in Washington state. “To decrease concussions, athletes need to practice good technique in tackling and blocking by keeping their heads away from contact.”

 

    1. Technique – Some sports include more contact than others. Good coaches always teach athletes not to initiate contact with the head, but we still see a lot of young athletes using poor form when tackling or hitting.

 

    1. Awareness – It seems crazy, but there are still a lot of parents and coaches who simply do not understand how dangerous a concussion can be or that there is inherent risk involved in participating in most sports. This site was set up to help heighten awareness at the same time we discuss prevention options and proper treatment

 

  1. Training – This component is just now picking up momentum, but some coaches have known about this concept for years. This is also the least publicized aspect of concussion prevention for several reasons.

 

First, most people don’t know how to safely and effectively train the head and neck musculature. Second, it would be next to impossible to produce scientific evidence to show that training will help prevent concussions because you would have to use real human beings and expose them to potentially life-threatening blows. This would never pass any collegiate ethics committee, so the research probably cannot be done.

 

Still, the automotive industry has known for years that a stronger and stiffer neck significantly reduces the G-forces encountered by crash test dummies in crash research. It seems obvious that a stronger neck would be extremely helpful during a blow to the head, but most doctors aren’t yet ready to admit that. That could be because:

 

a. Doctors won’t make any money from the prevention side of this issue.
b. Doctors probably have no idea how to train.
c. Doctors typically refer to the scientific literature, but we already established that this evidence will probably never be published in any scientific journal.

 

We have to understand that no amount of training or equipment will eliminate all injuries, but that is not the point. Ten years ago, ACL prevention programs were virtually non-existent. Today, female athletes all over the country understand that proper training will limit their risk of sustaining an injury. Yet, ACL injury rates haven’t slowed down. It doesn’t mean that the training has not helped. And, going through a training program does not mean you will never hurt yourself. Training is meant to reduce risk or severity of an injury.

 

The same goes for properly training the neck & head to reduce the risk of concussions and serious neck injuries. The training does not eliminate the injuries, but it can help to lessen the risk or severity of neck and head injuries.

 

The leading researcher on neck training, Ph.D. candidate Ralph Cornwell, put it best when he said “If we know that it might help, and it’s not going to hurt, why wouldn’t you want to do this kind of training? People do ACL prevention programs all the time. This is like an ACL prevention program for your brain and neck. You can replace your ACL, but as far as I know, you only have one brain. It just makes sense to protect it.”

 

Research done by the NFL is now revealing that the repetitive sub-concussive blows – the hits that don’t knock you out, but just ring your bell a little – are the main culprit behind the long-term brain damage seen in many former athletes. Many of these athletes are now suing major sports organizations because they are mentally and physically disabled due to these blows. It seems that every brain has a certain number of hits it can take before long-term damage sets in. The more G-forces the brain encounter, the worse it gets.

 

Training can reduce the G-forces encountered on these sub-concussive blows, raising the bar on the number of hits it will take before the long-term damage sets in. This is some of the best news ever presented on this topic, because it gives us hope that we may be able to combat this problem.

 

Major sports organizations like USA Hockey and the NFL are recognizing that something must be done, so rules are changing quickly. Even Dr. Robert Cantu, who is considered one of the leading experts on the subject, has said that he thinks young athletes should wait until they are stronger and more mature before they engaging in intense contact/hitting sports. This means that the leading authority on concussions understands that being stronger will have a positive effect and is part of the concussion prevention equation.

 

With the knowledge that training can help prevent concussion and other injuries and, when done properly, can cause no harm, why would we NOT strengthen the muscles surrounding the head and neck?

 

 

Pretend Play for Youth Fitness

 

 

Youth Fitness

This subject can actually get quite complex, because we are delving into the inner workings of the developing brain, with billions of neurons.  However, as much as we have to learn, we do know some things.  I will try to break down this subject of how pretend can be beneficial for development.

 

Everyone knows that kids pretend.  It’s often considered a frivolous, useless activity.  I find this a curious conclusion.  Why would kids all over the world, no matter the culture, engage in pretend play if it was so useless?  Why are our brains wired to do this if it is so devoid of value?

 

Have you ever considered the reasons why children engage in pretend play, or “pretense”?  Well, cognitive researchers have, and the findings are interesting:

 

1) Children pretend in order to learn the ability to represent a “strategy map” (if you will excuse my liberal use of that term).  Instead of being truly “in” the situation, they can learn to think many steps ahead.  It is basically like practice for the problem solving machinery in the brain. 

 

2) Pretense can develop these problem-solving skills in the absence of performance based stress.  Think about having consequences to your own safety and the expectations of adults always “weighing” on your decisions.  You are most likely going to always pick the “safest”, most familiar solution.  You are likely to not be very creative in this situation.  But in pretend play, you can be anyone and you can be anywhere! 

 

3) Pretense can even help kids develop empathy, by being able to picture themselves in someone else’s shoes. 

 

4) Pretending can deepen kinetic understanding (a term I will coin here).  Pretending, literally, to move with someone else’s patterns and rhythms can promote a much deeper feel for a movement, or what we might call “second nature”.   

 

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Brian's Close Call

I’ll just come straight out with it.

 

I wrecked my car last weekend.

 

Something I likely won’t forget anytime soon.

 

I was driving from Chicago to Minnesota in order to present at a
seminar in St. Paul.

 

Scheduled to speak at 10:40 in the morning on Sunday, I opted to
leave my house at around 11pm Saturday night.

 

I had slept a bunch that day and was completely rested, so felt good
about making the 6 hour drive through the night.

 

At roughly 3am I found myself driving on a very poorly lit stretch of
the Wisconsin country-side. Wide awake, in great spirits and enjoying
an educational CD playing from my car’s stereo.

 

I won’t belabor the details or try to write in any sort of suspenseful
way.

 

Just the facts.

 

Without warning at all, an animal of some sort ran across the highway
and struck the front of my car.

 

(more…)

My Life is Changing and So Can Yours Get A Youth Fitness Certification

 

 

Youth Fitness Certification From The IYCA

Big changes are happening in my personal life.

 

But they’re changes I’m making for a ‘business’ reason.

 

I’m moving to Kentucky.

 

Heading south just in time to avoid what promises to be
yet another nasty mid-western winter here in the U.S.

 

And I admit that the move is bitter-sweet for me.

 

I have great friends in this area.

 

I know the neighborhood well and enjoy the people I
encounter daily.

 

But for the greater good of the IYCA, I decided to take
this rather large step.

 

You see, my two business partners (Pat Rigsby and Nick
Berry) live near Louisville and for months now, we’ve
been talking about the idea of me heading south in order
to be closer to them.

 

So as much as I hate to uproot my life and leave my
friends, this decision really has been a no-brain idea.

 

Pat, Nick and I work very well together. 

 

Every time we’ve spent a few days together, the amount
of quality work that gets done is absolutely astounding
to me.

 

Three guys with similar work ethics, dedicating themselves
to a common goal.

 

It’s been a very powerful experience.

 

Here’s the reality.

 

The IYCA is growing at such a fast rate, the three
of us need to spend some extended time together.

 

And IYCA Members are going to be the benefactors of
this personal change I’m making in my life.

 

We’re working on some big things.

 

Some things that are guaranteed to change the face of
our industry forever.

 

The details are still far too cloudy to explain right
now, but rest assured, IYCA Members are a few short
months away from gaining opportunities that most fitness
professionals only ever dream of.

 

And me working everyday with Pat and Nick is what is
needed to take this concept we have and turn it into
a reality.

 

My heart is heavy for sure…

 

… But I couldn’t be more excited at the same time.

 

If you’re not part of the IYCA yet, than this is without
question something you have to consider right now.
Pat, Nick and myself are about to open up one of the
greatest opportunities you are ever going to see in this
industry’s history.

 

And this opportunity will only be available Ito IYCA Members.

 

Having said that, our Level 1 – Youth Fitness Specialist
certification is at the lowest price you’re ever going
to see it for.

 

On Tuesday September 2, we are raising the price
indefinitely and forever.

 

$197 gets you the best youth fitness certification educational experience you
could possibly have in this industry and opens the
door for you to take advantage of the opportunity
we are going to be unveiling in just a few months.

 

Kind of like the ‘Perfect Storm’ for you.

 

Here’s your link –

 

http://www.iyca.org/fitspecialist1

 

Time to take action, my friend get your youth fitness certification

….

 

‘Till next time,

 

Brian