This long-term consequences of concussions are finally getting notice from sports programs around the globe. Acknowledging that they can create life-long issues has only come about as NFL players have spoken out about their challenges. Schools are starting to pay attention by creating educational programs to help coaches and students learn about concussions. They focus on why it is so important to prevent hits to the head as well as take the time to heal when they do happen.
Research has shown that educational programs aimed at prevention and recovery are have a significant impact on reduction of concussions and shortening of recovery times. The “Heads Up” program is provided in over 7,000 sports programs across the USA. It teaches students to tackle from the shoulder instead of the head, thereby reducing the incident of concussions by 33%. Students who participated in the program recovered 27% faster if they did get a concussion. Read more about the Heads Up study here.
In New Zealand researchers are focusing on what causes some rugby players to get concussions when others do not. They found that weaker and uneven neck strength was a contributing factor in the likelihood of concussion. They found students with weaker necks were more apt to have a whip-lash movement after head impact, increasing the acceleration of the head on impact. This kind of movement would increase the chances of a contrecoup injury, which could cause concussions on two sides of the brain. Read more about the neck strength study here.
Why worry about concussions in students?
Concussions are a form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that are often disregarded as minor. Post-concussive syndrome is a condition where long-term neurological problems are present a mont or more after the concussion. What determines the ability to heal is mostly genetic. If a person has 2 or more concussions in a short time span, they are at a higher risk of having post-concussive syndrome. Some people can have issues for years after a concussion, and others can have issues that will not go away without specific interventions. Our son was diagnosed with post-concussive syndrome 4 years after a bad fall. We used neurofeedback to fix the neurologic issues he was having.
Here is a presentation I did on Returning to School After TBI. It provides information on how to support a student who may have difficulty returning to a regular school schedule.