A recent study in Canada reveals the increased risk of sports injuries when concussions are under reported, and thus under treated. Concussion physical therapist, Fred Stoot, BMRPT, shares the report’s findings:
“Some really good work has been done recently that’s been published in Ontario Canada, my home away from home. Ontario did a really interesting study that said of all concussions reported in the province, they felt that it was 50 percent under-reported. So, 50 percent of the time, concussions don’t get reported and for a variety of reasons. Because people didn’t
lose consciousness, they didn’t really feel they had that many symptoms under, you know, after getting hit or things like that. It’s 50 percent of the time. It is under-reported and there are a few issues with under reporting concussions.
We now know that if somebody has had a concussion, and basically it goes
untreated, you think, ‘I’m okay.’ So, you go back to playing sport. They know that those people are 34 percent more likely to sustain an orthopedic
injury within the first year of them returning to that sport. And that, at some level, is shocking.
And I think clinically, I’ve seen that through most of my career – somebody is running down the field and they turn and cut and they sustain an anterior cruciate ligament tear. Or they’ve had chronic ankle injuries.
And when you look at their history at some point, they have had a
concussion that they basically ignored – or felt that they had recovered from. But what didn’t recover is their reaction time.
And we now know that under treating a concussion or developing post-concussive syndrome makes you much more – makes you much more susceptible to orthopedic injuries. And we know it’s the ability of the body to react. And so what a concussion does is basically slow down your reaction time to incoming input. So, you’re playing a game and you’re just not quite as sharp as you should be – best way to describe it.
And what Ontario has pointed out is that with the underreporting, they wonder if that’s not why after a concussion – particularly at a high school level and a college level – when your brain isn’t totally mature and neither is your muscular skeletal system. That’s why they see such an increased incidence of injuries post-concussion or post-traumatic injury. Because kids simply need more help early on in concussion recovery – and by kids I mean you know immature athletes 18 to 25 – we’re seeing it early with 14, 15 year olds alike – that it’s critical that you recognize that you’ve sustained a concussion.
Secondarily, it’s critical that the right intervention takes place early. Again, at HDPT, I think we’ve done a really good job of identifying [concussion] early with our concussion testing. Secondarily, documenting what we need to do. And lastly, make sure you are in the best possible reactive muscular skeletal shape to go back and participate in your sport.”
The research suggests that when concussed athletes return to sport too early, they are at a greater risk for also sustaining orthopedic injuries. Their balance may be off. Their reaction time can be dulled. Their spatial awareness can be impaired. This strengthens the importance of immediate reporting and treatment of concussions.