Protect and survive: athletes and concussion

Athletes need better protection, argues physiotherapist Theo Farley from the Concussion Screening Company.

Did you watch the last Rugby World Cup or the Rio Olympics? If so, you might have noticed how important it has become to ensure players’ and athletes’ safety when concussion is suspected. I work with the English Institute of Sport and the concussion service at Pure Sports Medicine. I have started a service offering pre-injury baseline concussion screening to young and recreational athletes to help protect them against the risk of concussion.
Concussion is now rightly recognised as a very serious injury that can affect all aspects of an individual’s life – from work or academic capabilities to being able to focus in social situations.
There have also been more serious cases where an athlete has suffered a second concussion before recovering from the first.
Interestingly, concussion has one of the highest rates of re-injury when compared to most sporting injuries. This means that following a concussion you are more likely to sustain not only another head injury but a musculoskeletal injury, as an individual’s balance and spatial awareness is lacking if they have not recovered from being concussed.
The Concussion Screening Company goes to schools and sports clubs to take pre- injury baseline scores of cognitive and balance measures. The scores are then used to compare with post- injury function if someone has concussion, helping to ensure that the player doesn’t return to sport before it is safe to do so. Concussive injuries are more common than people think, so we need to be prepared for them. 
Other concerns include players masking concussion symptoms in order to return to playing as soon as possible. This may be brought into focus later this year by policy changes that could see a mandatory two weeks’ rest before the onset of the return-to-play protocols. This makes having an accurate baseline even more important. Players can be tempted to hide symptoms of concussion from coaches and medical staff due to a desire to keep playing, and a mandatory three weeks out could well increase the temptation and increase the importance of having accurate baselines.
  • Theo Farley, a physio, founded the Concussion Screening Company 
More information For more information, visit their website here.
Theo Farley, a physio, founded the Concussion Screening Company

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