Concussion Prevention in Youth Athletes

Concussion Prevention in Portland OR

The discussion of concussions in sports is a continuing saga that seems to grow each year as more people of all ages play sports. Concussions are not only present in the NFL or professional sports, kids of all ages are at risk of brain injuries. Parents and youth coaches must be actively involved in this discussion and must take steps to prevent concussions amongst today’s youth athletes.

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs when the brain moves back and forth rapidly inside the skull. It can occur during events such as a car accident or a fall. However, concussions are gaining increased notoriety for their rapidly increasing occurrence in such sports as football, rugby, lacrosse, baseball, softball and soccer. In fact, there are more than 3 million concussion cases in the United States annually.

While a concussion does not show up on brain imaging, it is a serious injury that creates numerous symptoms. Some of its most common symptoms include the following:

  • tiredness
  • nausea
  • poor concentration
  • confusion
  • problems with light and noise
  • mood changes
  • loss of consciousness.

Why Concussion Prevention Is Key

Throughout childhood and adolescence, an individual’s brain is constantly growing and developing. Concussion prevention can save athletes of all ages from ongoing physical and mental health concerns. Additionally, concussion prevention will save you money in the long run; the cost of prevention is far less than the cost of medical care required for those who have sustained a concussion. Wearing protective equipment is the best way to protect young athletes from concussions. Properly fitted helmets, headgear, and protective pads are crucial for keeping youth athletes safe.

Concussion Testing

When a child or teen displays any of the signs or symptoms of a concussion, they need medical care immediately to receive a diagnosis and begin treatment. CT scans and MRI imaging are not recommended as concussions usually do not show up.

ImPACT testing is the best option that gives parents and doctors a baseline for reference. This testing should occur every one to two years depending on the age of the individual involved in high-impact sports. ImPACT tests have gone through rigorous clinical research and are seen as the best practice for concussion testing throughout the medical community.

In the event that prevention methods are not effective, a brain injury needs to be treated correctly. For most people, this focuses on resting from many physical and mental activities. Medical personnel will follow a Return to Play protocol that uses a step-by-step approach to resume activities. By following treatment protocols and removing any activities that provoke symptoms in the days following the injury, athletes of all ages can protect their brains from further injury and get back to their baselines quickly.

Top 5 Impediments to Healing

Top 5 Impediments to Healing. New Heights Physical Therapy in Vancouver WA and Portland OR.

When we become injured or sick, it is often in our nature to think there is a one-solution fix. We see our primary care physicians or our physical therapists in hopes that they alone will rid us of our ailments. However, this is not always possible and although our healthcare team plays a critical part in our healing process, there are often behaviors we practice outside the clinic that stand in the way of optimal recovery.

Here at New Heights, our PTs have identified a number of barriers that prevent optimal recovery. The top five were:

  • Poor nutrition
  • Inactivity or TOO MUCH activity
  • Poor hydration
  • Stress/Anxiety/Depression
  • Poor attitude

Other barriers include environmental toxins and lack of sleep. All play a part in our body’s ability to repair itself. Processed foods, pushing through pain and not giving our bodies enough time to heal can lead to chronic inflammation which in turn leads to degeneration and loss of function in the affected area. Factors such as chronic stress or anxiety cause our bodies to be in a constant state of tension, inhibiting the healing process.

Because our PTs recognize these and many other barriers, New Heights’ Portland Clinic is hosting wellness classes and lectures that focus on a holistic health approach. Every month, we invite experts from around the Portland-Metro area to come and share what they know. A majority of these offerings are free and open to both patients and the community.

This fall’s highlights:

  • Dr. Tyna Moore, ND, DC, will be leading a lecture about gut health and how the foods we eat can either promote or inhibit reactions such as inflammation
  • Dr. Kathy Alvarez, MD, will be speaking on stress management and the importance of understanding the effects stress has on the body
  • There will also be lectures on osteoporosis, concussion awareness, sports injury prevention, bike fittings and many others

In addition to the monthly lectures, weekly wellness classes have been developed to help relieve stress and promote healing. Our new yoga instructor, Heather Beckett, will be leading Yoga Steps every Monday, for those new to yoga or recovering from an injury. She will also be leading a Dynamic Yoga Flow class on Wednesdays for those ready for a bigger challenge. Furthermore, group acupuncture and CHILL classes provide more opportunity to de-stress, while MELT classes work to rehydrate to your connective tissue, reduce inflammation and increase joint mobility.

Our goal in providing these classes and lectures is to help build an awareness for the intricacies of our bodies and to recognize that in order to reach optimal health we must take care of multiple systems. Our hope is that you will take control of your health by joining us. For more information about our wellness classes and lectures visit our online wellness class schedule or call 971-339-3405.

References: U.S. News & World Report, American Psychological Association