There are several studies that have been done over the last few years about concussions, and our level of understanding, although incomplete, continues to make progress.
One of the aspects that remains misunderstood is the sub-concussion impact to the head and what it does to the brain. Several brains of athletes that have been studied were those of professionals who reported no symptoms of concussion during their careers. Some of these brains had signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (the famous CTE). What is unclear is whether the problem stems from a bad concussion management protocol at the time these athletes were playing, or if light head impact can cause brain damage. At the time of writing this article, the trend is that sub-concussion head impact can cause damage to the brain.
If this holds true, then many other sports have to be included in the “at risk” category for potential brain injury on top of football and hockey: soccer, downhill skiing, biking, skateboarding, and of course all the combat sports… and more.
As parents should we be concerned about this information? As a father of an active and healthy young child, my opinion is: no. In fact the information is relative. If in the past the risks of having brain injuries were confined to certain sports (boxing, football and hockey were the ones most often targeted), with this new information risks could be extended to the practice of sports involving speed, potential falls and any type of shocks to the head. This doesn’t leave many sports that have no risks. Not all children want to swim or do track and field. And many team sports fall into the high-risk category.
What becomes important for me as a parent then is the safety protocol in place: who is coaching my child and who there is to intervene if a problem occurs. If there is a problem, I want to know that my child will be well supervised and will not be sent back on the field, on the track, or in the arena without having had the risk of concussion assessed by competent and well-trained professionals. Ironically some of the sports that are “at risk” are the ones that have made the most effort to improve coaching training and protocol. These sports are among the safest to do, not because no problem exists, but because if there is a problem, the child is removed quickly and handled properly. This to me is much better than letting my child be alone in the skate park without supervision or nothing being done in the case of a fall and not even knowing if he wears his helmet.
Of course each parent will do what they think is best for their child. But I think having an active and healthy child is as important as having him or her protected from potential problems and injuries. The best option still is to talk to our children so that they understand the risks and symptoms of a head injury and so that they can tell you about it if they are experiencing any symptoms. Because the reality is that a concussion can occur anywhere and at any time.
In the last few years, concussion has been the health subject that has drawn a lot of attention. Sports such as hockey and football have been particularly singled out, especially the NFL which has been accused of not being as transparent as it could have been with the long-term negative effects of concussions and how the injuries are treated by the teams.
Although the reality of professional contact sports is far from most of us, no one is immune to the risks of concussions, whether young or old, sedentary or active. If you think you or someone close to you may have suffered a concussion, the Quebec government has put in place a protocol that should be followed.
Osteopathy can also help in cases when a concussion has been diagnosed by a physician. How can osteopathy help? It is able to activate the blood flow to the head by releasing blockages and tensions that the impact has produced (or existing pre-impact blockages). Through this blood would flows more freely, thus facilitating and accelerating the healing process. Signs and symptoms such as headaches, fog sensation, short, medium, or long-term memory loss, fatigue and concentration problems, can be improved with osteopathy. In addition, the osteopath will be able to treat the peripheral consequences of a concussion, neck problem, muscle pain, etc.
If you think you have had a concussion, you should immediately stop your activity and see a doctor. Then your osteopath can help you regain a functional level as quickly as possible.
If you have any questions or comments, please do not hesitate to contact us.