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.

Concussion Care: How To Keep Your Student Athlete Safe

January 24, 2018

Professional sports fans know all too well that a concussion can sideline their favorite player for weeks, but with school back in full swing after the holidays, it’s important to remember that traumatic brain injuries can happen to scholastic-level athletes as well.

A concussion is a type of brain injury that can be caused by a bump or jolt to the head that causes the brain to move quickly back and forth. The movement can cause chemical changes in the brain that can result in a number of symptoms including dizziness, memory loss, fogginess, anxiety, headache, neck pain and visual disturbances.

It’s impossible to prevent all head injuries, but here are a few tips to help reduce the risk:

Enforce the Rules

Most sports-related concussions (roughly 70 percent) come from contact with another athlete, according to the Center for Disease Control. Make sure your athlete knows not to strike another athlete in the head or to initiate contact with his or her head.

Helmets should always fit properly, but there is no concussion-proof equipment. The best way to prevent concussions is to avoid contact to the head whenever possible.

Talk About Concussions

Make sure your athlete knows the importance of reporting a concussion to their coaches or parents. As many as 7 out of 10 young athletes report playing with symptoms of concussions. Of those playing with symptoms, 4 out of 10 say their coaches are unaware.

Teach athletes to be mindful of concussion symptoms and they’ll be more likely to report them.

Have a Concussion Plan

If you suspect your student athlete has sustained a head injury, make sure to remove them from play until they’ve been cleared by a professional. Do Not attempt to judge the severity of the injury on your own. Make sure the injured athlete is evaluated by a trained medical professional.

If your child or athlete does sustain a concussion on the field, don’t worry.

In an effort to not only heal patients, but get them back to the sports they love, Burke Rehabilitation Hospital now offers a comprehensive concussion management with return to sport program. This new program is offered in an outpatient setting at Burke’s main campus in White Plains as well as at the Purchase and Mamaroneck clinics.

The Return to Sport program boasts medical professionals including physicians, physical therapists neuropsychologists, neuro-optometrists, speech therapists and occupational therapists—all of whom have advanced training and experience in concussion management.

Treatment begins with an evaluation from a vestibular physical therapist who develops a customized treatment plan targeted at vestibular, ocular, cervical balance and exertional symptoms.  An exertional assessment, including treadmill testing or sport specific drills may also be completed.

Patients are then progressed through the stages of the Zurich return to Play Protocol—a multi-step recovery process that gradually prepares the patient for a healthy return to action.

Where to begin?

First, you’ll need a prescription from your doctor. Once Burke receives your prescription and any other tests your doctor may order, we will contact you to schedule an evaluation at one of our three locations.

Your individual treatment plan and schedule will be determined after that evaluation.

For more information, contact any of our three outpatient clinics offering the program.

  • Mamaroneck: (914) 597-2556
  • Purchase: (914) 597-2133
  • White Plains: (914) 597-2122

--Joe Jenkins

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Please note

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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