Rehab Insights is a weekly blog written by Burke Rehabilitation professionals to offer practical information for patients, families and the community. Its goal is to educate the reader on relevant topics in rehabilitation, general health and wellness.

Do Your Kids Play Contact Sports? Read This.

As school starts up and sports are in full swing, injury prevention and concussions are a hot topic. The ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Foundation is a nonprofit organization offering educational programs aimed at preventing brain and spinal cord injuries.  The White Plains ThinkFirst Program provided by Burke Rehabilitation Hospital physical, occupational, speech language therapists and physicians provides free education programs for children, young adults, and adults throughout Westchester County. One of the programs offered is a concussion education program focusing on recognition, management, and prevention of concussions using a presentation called ThinkFirst About Concussions!

To start, it's important to know that a concussion is a brain injury. Many think that a concussion is harmless or can clear up on its own, but the correct management of a concussion is essential to appropriate healing and return to play. Wearing the appropriate gear, playing by the rules, and using your mind to protect your body will prevent most injuries, but in the event that a concussion occurs, it’s important to know when to seek medical attention and how to proceed. Prevention is the key, but everyone should know how to recognize and manage, in order to prevent a far worse level of brain injury. What may seem as something trivial or minor can become a severe injury if you don’t allow your brain to heal prior to returning to activity.    

  • A concussion is an injury to the brain, caused by:
    • A blow to the head
    • A jolt, or severe motion, to the head
  • Signs and Symptoms:
    • Headache or pressure in the head
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Double or blurred vision
    • Dizziness or poor balance
    • Sensitivity to light or noise
    • Feeling groggy, foggy, or sluggish
    • Difficulty paying attention
    • Memory problems
    • Confusion
    • Just don’t feel “right”
  • What should you do if you sustain a concussion?
    • Tell someone
    • See a healthcare professional
    • Give your brain time to heal
    • Return to activities slowly once you are symptom free

Concussions don’t just occur on the sports field. Off the field you can sustain a concussion from a fall, accident or mishap. Things you can do to prevent a concussion include:

  • Always wear a seatbelt
  • Drive without distraction (i.e. no texting)
  • Drive sober and safe
  • Wear a helmet when participating in recreational activities such as wheeled sports, skiing/snowboarding, and horseback riding
  • Take extra precaution to avoid falls when on ladders or in a high place

We only have one brain and should take every step to protect ourselves and our loved ones.  Concussions are not a joke and you can reduce your risk of a concussion by playing safe and following the rules. If you do sustain a concussion, make sure you seek medical attention, follow the advice you receive, and never return to activity and play before the symptoms have resolved. 

For more information regarding concussions or to inquire about free programming offered by the White Plains ThinkFirst Program, contact Liz Dominick at eamoore@burke.org or (914) 597-2480.

**Information adapted from the ThinkFirst About Concussion! resources and Concussion Recognition and Management, Student Information Brochure from the ThinkFirst National Injury Prevention Program.

—Elizabeth Dominick, PT, DPT, NCS, Clinical Team Leader for SCI/Neurological Program at Burke Rehabilitation Hospital, White Plains ThinkFirst Chapter Director

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Burke's Rehab Insights blog is intended to provide general information about rehabilitation and other health care topics. It should not take the place of medical care. Burke staff cannot comment on individual medical cases or give medical advice.

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