233-E Bell Fork Rd.
Jacksonville, NC 28540
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Concussions: Get Your Head In The Game

The fall athletics season is in full swing! High school athletes are in the weight room, working on strength and conditioning or playing weekend tournaments over the summer to prepare for the fall. With preseason workouts comes football tackling drills, heading soccer balls, and diving for that out of reach volleyball creating an even greater risk for concussions. Every step onto the field or court puts athletes at risk for injury, so it is our job as parents, grandparents, fans, and coaches to know how to recognize a concussion and the steps to follow after sustaining one.


The Center for Disease Control estimates that 1.6 to 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur each year with 65% occurring in children and adolescents during crucial brain development. The development of the brain plays a large role in the Return To Play (RTP) protocol for young athletes to prevent Second Impact Syndrome which can be fatal. Rate of recovery may be delayed with a developing brain and therefore a Sports Medicine Physician must clear an athlete before returning to any activity. Let’s discuss the proper recognition, management, and return to play procedures for a head injury.


What is a concussion? The CDC defines a concussion as a type of traumatic brain injury that changes the functionality of the brain. A bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body causes the brain to hit back and forth causing damage so even the smallest of “dings” should not be discounted. Signs and symptoms can result immediately or hours after the hit. These may include but are not limited to: headache, nausea or vomiting, balance problems, dizziness, blurred vision, sensitivity to light or noise, difficulty concentrating or remembering, loss of consciousness, confusion, and behavior changes. While there may be concussion-savvy coaches or certified athletic trainers (ATC) at your child’s sporting event, it is important for you to be able to recognize these signs and symptoms as well, even hours after the game.


In the past couple of years, exciting technology for concussion recognition and management has emerged. Synergy Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine was the first sports medicine provider to introduce a concussion management tool to the Jacksonville community. Smart phone applications like Sway Balance are becoming more accessible and provide athletes with an objective score of balance and reaction time right on the sideline. It also allows the user to rate symptoms post-injury and creates a report for the Physician. By comparing this post-injury score to an athlete’s preseason baseline score a healthcare professional can assess the brain injury without hesitation. These scores are also crucial in safe RTP when the athlete is symptom free and balance score has returned to the baseline.


Concussions are a scary thing; however they should not deter you from enrolling your kids into sports! Know the signs and symptoms and follow the RTP guidelines in order to allow for full recovery. Take advantage of some of the pre-season screening offered by Sports Medicine providers like Synergy Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine.  Keep YOUR head in the game, so your athlete can keep THEIR head in the game!



Maria Lotan, LAT, ATC

Certified Athletic Trainer

Head Rehabilitation Technician

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