Concussions have quickly become a nationwide concern. The Shift Concussion Management Program provides an advanced approach to concussion awareness and management, guiding injured athletes and non-athletes to a safe return to both sport participation and daily life activities. It is well established that concussions tend to go underreported in youth sports, and this stems, in part, from a lack of knowledge of both the signs and symptoms of a concussion and the proper recognition and management of the injury. Our program emphasizes a continuum of care from education and baseline testing to injury management and return-to-play or activities of daily living.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a blow, bump, or ‘jolt’ to the head that temporarily changes the way your brain works – causing you to experience certain symptoms like headaches and dizziness. A concussion may also occur from a blow to the body such as a motor vehicle accident, that causes your head to jolt back-and-forth or side-to-side. A concussion may or may not involve a loss of consciousness. In fact, very few concussions actually result in loss of consciousness.
Concussions can produce a wide array of symptoms, which poses a challenge for coaches, trainers, parents, and health professionals involved in the care of an injured athlete. The time-course for recovery also varies widely from athlete to athlete, making it impossible to employ a “cookie-cutter” approach to concussion rehabilitation and return-to-participation timelines.
Currently, there is no “gold standard” for the detection of a concussive injury. Diagnosis is typically based on the presence of any combination of symptoms known to commonly result from a concussion. Traditional return to play decisions have become reliant on the “wait until symptoms resolve” paradigm. Recent advancements in concussion management have resulted in the widespread use of computer-based neuro-cognitive testing protocols. Evidence now shows that concussed athletes demonstrate subtle cognitive deficits that persist beyond symptom resolution, emphasizing that return to play once “symptom-free” is not an accurate measure of readiness. This is why Shift with it’s affiliation with the University of Pittsburg Medical Center (UPMC) and the Stop Concussions Foundation, have developed a multi-facetd approach to the management of concussions.
The SHIFT Difference – A Multi-Faceted Approach
The advent of computerized neurocognitive testing is a big step forward, yet is only one piece of the puzzle. The hockey community is still reeling from Sidney Crosby’s extended absence due to concussion-like symptoms. Now clear, his return to the game was not based on cognitive assessment alone. No single tool or measure can be used in isolation when it comes to the management of concussion.
That is why as a Shift certified therapist, we assess and manage each athlete as a whole and tailor our rehabilitative strategies to the individual needs of each athlete. We emphasize testing protocols that provide objective data from many different areas of athletic performance (cognitive, visual, vestibular, physical, neuromuscular, etc.) to aid in the development of individualized intervention strategies.
What is a Baseline Test and Why is it Important?
Because concussions can be difficult to diagnose and test for, many health professionals recommend that athletes obtain a baseline test before the start of the sport season. A baseline test gives health professionals a point of reference or “snap shot” of your pre-season cognitive and physical function so that if you sustain a concussion, the after-injury results can be compared to your baseline test. Having a baseline test helps health professionals more accurately gauge the severity of your injury, objectively monitor your recovery, and determine when it is safe for you to return to play.
Concussion Signs and Symptoms May Consist of Any Combination Thereof:
- Pressure in Head
- Neck Pain
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Blurred Vision
- Balance Problems
- Sensitivity to Noise
- Feeling Slowed Down
- Feeling like ‘Being in a Fog”
- Melaise (“Don’t Feel Right”)
- Difficulty Concetrating
- Difficulty Remembering
- Fatigue or Low Energy
- Trouble Falling Asleep
- More Emotional
- Nervous or Anxious