Concussions are a big deal! JMSer Jennifer Ginkel works with the National Dizzy and Balance Center — she provided this article about concussions:
In recent years the awareness level of the occurrence of concussions in youth athletics, and how to treat them, has increased significantly. The National Dizzy and Balance Center has recognized this and teamed up with Minnesota Wild and Minnesota Hockey in their efforts geared towards their “Respect and Protect” program for raising awareness in youth athletics and National Dizzy and Balance Centerâ€™s program for baseline and post injury concussion testing.
The American Academy of Neurology clearly defines concussion as a trauma-induced alteration in mental status, which may or may not involve a loss of consciousness. Studies show there are more than 300,000 sport-related concussions each year. As this field of study expands, difficulties still exist in accurately identifying the full extent of a concussion.
Given the wide variety of symptoms associated with concussions, baseline neurophysiological testing (ImPACT) provides an individualized objective evaluation of the concussed athleteâ€™s post-injury condition and assists in tracking recovery for safe return to play. The testing program measures multiple aspects of cognitive function, including: attention span, working memory, attention time, reaction time, and problem solving. ImPACT testing also assists in preventing â€œSecond Impact Syndromeâ€, which may occur in athletes under the age of 20 who sustain a second concussion before the initial concussion has completely healed. Comparing baseline testing with post-injury scores will indicate if an athlete has returned to his/her pre-concussion baseline, and if he/she is appropriate for return to play.
In addition to ImPACT testing, NDBC offers Computerized Dynamic Posturography (CDP) to assess the manner in which an athlete is integrating sensory information to maintain balance. After a concussion, athletes often report symptoms of dizziness and imbalance, which may be due to a vestibular (inner ear) injury or the result of injured brain centers. Testing with ImPACT and CDP provides a more comprehensive baseline, so that more accurate decisions can be made in regard to return to play recommendations.
As it may be an indication of concussion, do not hesitate to seek medical attention if an athlete displays or describes experiencing any of the following symptoms:
- Loss of consciousness
- Behavior and/or personality change
- Memory loss prior to and/or post trauma
- Dizzy/balance problems
- Double/fuzzy vision
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling sluggish or â€œfoggyâ€
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty with concentration
Most athletes will fully recover from a concussion, but some athletes may experience chronic cognitive and neurobehavioral difficulties, described as â€œPost-Concussion Syndromeâ€. The symptoms can be disabling for an athlete, and in some cases, permanent. Completing baseline testing with ImPACT and CDP, recognizing a concussion, seeking treatment, and raising awareness may save an athlete from brain damage or even death.
So, protect yourself and other hockey players in your family–take the proper steps and do baseline testing! You only have one brain and one chance to do the right thing.
- Kirkwood MN, Yeates KO, Wilson PE. Pediatric sport-related concussion: A review of the clinical management of the oft-neglected population. Pediatrics 2006; 117(4): 1359-71.
- Guskiewicz FM, Ross SE, Marshall SW. Postural stability and neuropsychological deficits after concussion in collegiate athletes. J Athl Train 2001: 36(3): 263-73.
- McCrea M, Guskiewicz KM, Marshall SW. Acute effects and recovery time following concussion in collegiate football players: the NCAA concussion study. JAMA 2003; 290 (19): 2549-55.
- Riemann BL, Guskiewicz, KM. Effects of mild head injury on postural stability as measured through clinical balance testing. J Athl Train 2000: 35(1): 19â€“25.
- Broglio SP, Sosnoff JJ, Ferrara MS. The relationship of athlete-reported concussion symptoms and objective measures of neurocognitive function and postural control. Clin J Sport Med 2009: 19(5): 377-82.
- University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, (2010) Concussion Resource Center, August 27, 2010 http://impacttest.com/concussion/overview#commonsigns