Understanding Concussions Part 2: Returning to Sport and Prevention
There are more than 3 million high school student athletes and younger and of those, 20 percent of them will sustain a brain injury. Additionally about 41 percent of student athletes who have sustained a concussion will return to sport prematurely. This can be very dangerous because it can lead to something called second impact syndrome, which is often fatal. So let’s take look into the recovery, returning to activity, and prevention of concussions.
As a review, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. The resulting trauma from this sudden movement can cause damage to the brain cells.
One of the most important aspects of recovery from a concussion is rest. The brain needs time and the proper environment to heal correctly. You need to rest not only the body but also the brain, so activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, or reading may cause concussion related symptoms such as headaches and fatigue to worsen. If your child got a concussion, it is important that they get plenty of rest with a regular sleep routine and avoid high-risk activities that might cause a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body such as biking, rollerblading, and skateboarding. It is also very important that anyone with a concussion return to activities slowly. This means that even if they are cleared by a medical professional, they should return to normal activities slowly and one step at a time.
The general return to sports is a progressive model and under the discretion of a medical provider. Progressing through the steps involve having no concussion symptoms during the phase they are currently in. If the person demonstrates symptoms of concussion, that means they are progressing too fast or pushing too hard and should not progress any further.
In the first step, the people has resumed all normal regular activities with no symptoms and have been cleared by a medical professional to start sports activities.
Step two is light 5-10 min of aerobic activities just to increase the heart rate such as a stationary bike or walking.
Step three is moderate activities that increases heart rate and involve head and body movements such as jogging, moderate intensity stationary biking, and light weightlifting.
In step four, the person can start heavy non-contact activities such as sprinting, running, weightlifting, and non-contact sport specific drills.
In step five; the person may participate in full practice and full contact, but still with close supervision.
The last step is for the athlete to return to competing.
This progression of steps may take days or even months to complete depending on the person and how they present. Again, it is extremely important to take it slow and not to rush. When it comes to prevention of concussions the most important thing is having on the proper equipment and educating your self on the symptoms and recovery.