A new study of female high school soccer players suggests that a neck collar may help protect the brain from head impacts over the course of a competitive soccer season.
“In sports, there’s a heavy focus on single big blows to the head that might lead to what is subjectively described as a ‘concussion,'” said Greg Myer, PhD, director of sports medicine research at Cincinnati Children’s and lead author of the study. “What we really wanted to look at now is the cumulative effect of head impact exposure over an entire season. Evidence indicates that cumulative load of head impacts is potentially more concerning than that one single blow.”
The neck collar device, called a Q-Collar, is designed to press gently on the jugular vein to slow blood outflow, increasing the brain’s blood volume during competitive play. The resulting effect is blood filling the brain vessel (like an airbag) to help the brain fit tighter within the skull cavity, reducing the energy absorbed by the brain during collisions.
Take Home Message: Following a concussion, athletes typically walk slower and perform poorly on cognitive tasks compared to controls. Hence, a gait task test may be a beneficial concussion assessment.
Many athletes who sustain a concussion suffer motor control deficits, specifically the inability to optimally perform dual tasks (motor and cognitive tasks). However, a challenge to assessing motor control deficits is that we often rely on self-reported balance issues to assess postural control abnormalities, which may lead to inaccuracies in diagnosis and returning an athlete to play. Therefore, the authors sought to determine if an athlete with a concussion completes motor tasks of different complexity (in isolation or when combined with a cognitive task) worse than healthy athletes. Furthermore, they aimed to determine if athletes who have self-reported balance problems following a concussion demonstrate worse gait, stance, or cognitive deficits than those who do not report balance problems. The authors evaluated motor and cognitive function in 49 athletes who sustained a concussion and 65 healthy athletes using the following protocol:
Static standing (single-task standing)
Static standing while completing a cognitive test (dual-task standing)
Walking only (single-task walking)
Walking while completing cognitive test (dual-task walking)
Concussion symptoms for children under 13 years old typically last three times longer than they do for older teens and adults, but keeping them out of the classroom during recovery is not necessarily the preferred treatment, according to a comprehensive research review in The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association.
Parents should be aware that significant changes in the treatment of concussion — including a major shift to promoting active recovery — have emerged in recent years, said Hallie Zwibel, DO, Director of Sports Medicine at New York Institute of Technology College of Osteopathic Medicine, and lead researcher on this study.
“It used to be thought that rest was best for a concussion. Kids were told to stay home from school and sit in a dark room for two weeks,” says Dr. Zwibel. “Now we encourage them to get back to school after two days and progressively get more active, so long as symptoms don’t return or worsen.”
In 2016, funded by a $16 million grant from Scythian, the multidisciplinary Miller School team embarked on a five-year study to examine the effects of combining CBD (a cannabinoid derivative of hemp) with an NMDA antagonist (an anesthetic used in animals and humans) for the treatment of traumatic brain injury and concussion. The researchers believed the combination could reduce post-injury brain cell inflammation, headache, pain and other symptoms associated with concussion.
The findings of a pre-clinical pilot study were recently released, and they show that the combination therapy improved the cognitive functions of animals, compared with those treated with a single vehicle. In addition, there were no adverse effects from either the combination therapy or the individual components.
“There needs to be more systematic research in this field in order to study the neuroprotective properties of CBD, and to improve treatment for those sustaining mild-to-moderate TBI (traumatic brain injury) and concussion,” said Gillian A. Hotz, Ph.D., professor of neurological surgery, and director of the KiDZ Neuroscience Center at The Miami Project and the University of Miami Sports Medicine Institute concussion program.
Most doctors who treat young athletes for concussion know that the injury increases the risk of having a car accident, but barely half counsel their patients against driving, a U.S. study suggests.
Researchers invited members of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine to complete a 24-question online survey about their attitudes toward driving after a concussion and what they tell their patients. The study team examined answers from 333 doctors who had managed at least 12 concussions per year.
“In our study, 83 percent of physicians felt that concussion put individuals at a greater risk of a motor vehicle crash yet fewer than half, 49 percent, routinely counsel their patients about driving,” said lead author Dr. John Lucas IV of the Sports Medicine Institute at the Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System in South Carolina.
Concussion has been released—and with it, a wave of opinions on whether the film about chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) among National Football League (NFL) players will make a difference in how the league, and society at large, view sports that involve high-impact body contact.
The movie, which opened on December 25, stars Will Smith as forensic pathologist Bennett Omalu and chronicles Omalu’s battle with the NFL to bring attention to CTE and its relationship to repeated head injury.
And while there were plenty of reviews of the movie itself, even more media attention was focused on what the film had to say about the NFL, the sport of football, America’s passion for the game, and the chances that a big-budget movie would spark any meaningful change that would reduce injury. Here’s a quick rundown of some of the reactions published recently.
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Pregnant and postpartum exercise
During pregnancy and childbirth a woman’s body goes through profound changes in a relatively brief period of time. For women who exercise during or after pregnancy, failure to respect those changes has the potential to lead to problems. Christy Martin, PT, DPT, SCS, who specializes in sports physical therapy, and Vicki Lukert, PT, PRPC, who specializes in pelvic health, outline how pregnant and postpartum women can exercise safely and how to spot warning signs for problems that might require medical attention.