Archive for “Concussions” 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?

 

 

ACL Injuries and Young Athletes

 

 

Young Athletes Commn Injury

Sooner or later you’re going to get hurt. That’s what happens when athletes train hard and play intensely. But thanks to professionals like Erin Perry, young athletes are returning to action better and faster than ever before. Not to mention, her tips in this article will help you avoid injuries before they happen.

 

Erin is a sought-after athletic therapist in Toronto, Canada, specializing in pediatric elite athletes. She has worked with the women’s national soccer teams for 8 years, as well as the national gymnastics team, and regional teams including hockey, rugby, soccer, swimming, basketball, and volleyball to name a few. Erin also runs Developing Athletics Canada and the EOS Performance Institute.

 

Brian: Erin, can you tell us about the young athletes you typically work with and how you got into athletic therapy?

 

Erin Perry: As a young person, I was athletic, I enjoyed soccer, swimming, rowing, and skiing. I experienced some injuries, but it was the concussions that caused me to ‘hang ’em up’. I figured then and there that if I couldn’t be an athlete, that I would work hard to take care of other athletes in helping them realizing their dreams. Now I specialize in pediatric elite athletes both in clinic and field situations. Their development, training and treatment are my focus. So many injuries that I treat are preventable.

 

Brian: One of the most common injuries in female athletes is a torn ACL. What are your experiences in treating this injury and your thoughts on injury prevention?

 

EP: I am so happy that you asked. Most ACL injuries are what we call non-traumatic, which simply means that it is an injury that no contact was made in. For example, a soccer player running down the line with the ball, works to move the ball inside, and suddenly falls down while hearing a pop; an ACL tear. These are all preventable! The number one cause of these types of injuries is tight hamstrings. The three hamstrings should be stretched separately, and when tested in a straight leg raise, attention must be made that the findings are made with the pelvis remaining stationary. As soon as the pelvis rotates posteriorly, the test is negated. Most females have good straight leg raise range of motion, but have poor hamstring flexibility. The difference here is crucial. Normal is 80-90degrees. Please be tested, do the tests, and tell all of your friends and teammates, so that we decrease the incidence of ACLs! The other preventable cause is a muscle imbalance between the quadriceps and hamstrings. I will say that this is crucial, that the three hamstrings need to be strengthened again individually. Closed kinetic chain strengthening should be done all of the time, unless it is a rehab program.

 

Brian: Is the ACL injury common among all sports?

 

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