Heads Up on Risk of Concussion

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As youth football and soccer seasons kick off on fields across the country this month, so should the awareness about the risk of concussions in youth athletics. Accelerated Rehabilitation Centers—the largest physical therapist owned and managed practice in the US—stresses the importance of having adequately trained personnel on the sidelines who are prepared to make accurate diagnoses and informed decisions about players and concussions.

Concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the brain is shaken inside the skull, causing changes in the brain's chemistry and energy supply. A concussion may happen as a result of a direct blow to the head or an indirect force, such as whiplash. When the skull and the brain within it are spun rapidly, the nerves or brain cells temporarily stop working properly. This interruption in normal brain cell activity leads to headaches, confusion, and other symptoms. The person may or may not lose consciousness.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), as many as 3.8 million sports- and recreation-related concussions occur each year in the United States. The most concussions are seen in football and soccer. In addition, an analysis of data from hospital emergency departments across the country revealed that almost 500,000 ER visits for concussions occurred among eight- to 19-year-olds between 2001 and 2005. About half were sports-related, and 40 percent of sports-related concussions involved children between the ages of eight and 13.

When a concussion occurs, the first and most important step is to recognize it. More often than not, though, youth sports are being played without proper medical coverage. According to the National Athletic Trainers' Association, just 42 percent of high school athletes have access to athletic trainers. If not treated properly, concussions can lead to long-term problems for young athletes.

Accelerated has available sports medicine services that are unparalleled in the industry.  The highly-skilled clinical team, which includes 92 licensed, certified athletic trainers, as well as more than 760 physical and occupational therapists and other rehabilitation specialists, possess first-hand knowledge and experience related to the exact training and health care needs involved in athletics.

"In youth athletics, games are getting more aggressive and kids are getting stronger and faster," said Leila Siano, Manager of Sports Medicine and Certified Athletic Trainer. "As a result, there is an alarming rise in concussions in youth sports. Accelerated and our team of qualified therapists work every day to educate, making the information about concussions as widely and readily available as possible. This is the first step. Then we need to call a concussion what it is—not just 'having your bell rung,' but a brain injury—and treat it as such."

If you suspect a concussion:

>>Seek medical care immediately.

>>Avoid any activity that carries a risk of head injury.

>>Limit activities of all kinds, including school and work.

Physical symptoms may include:

--Headache

--Dizziness

--Difficulty with balance

--Nausea/vomiting

--Fatigue

--Difficulty with sleeping

--Double or blurred vision

--Sensitivity to light and sound

Cognitive symptoms may include:

--Difficulty with short-term or long-term memory

--Confusion

--Decreased ability to think through problems

--"Fogginess"

--Difficulty with concentration