Concussion management in football: don't shake it off: the effects of sports-related concussions can last for decades. physical therapists can play an important role in concussion detection and intervention

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Author: Kia Boriboon
Date: Feb. 2013
From: PT in Motion(Vol. 5, Issue 1)
Publisher: American Physical Therapy Association, Inc.
Document Type: Article
Length: 2,297 words

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Retired NFL quarterback Chris Miller experienced his first concussion while playing football in college. He was knocked out of bounds and flew headfirst into equipment storage bins on the sideline. He got up and walked back to the huddle.

The wrong huddle. Miller was confused, an effect of the concussion.

He experienced a second concussion during a college game in his sophomore year, losing consciousness for about 45 seconds.

Miller went on to play 9 seasons in the NFL, spending most of his career with the Atlanta Falcons. He was named to the 1991 NFL Pro Bowl, alongside such fellow quarterbacks as Jim Kelly, Troy Aikman, and John Elway. However, Miller was forced to retire before the 1996 football season after experiencing 5 concussions within 14 months. He attempted a comeback in 1999 but was sidelined again by another concussion.

While some people recover from concussions in a few days, it can take years for others to experience a decline in concussion symptoms. For those who have suffered severe or multiple concussions, symptoms may never go away. Such is the case for Miller, who was interviewed for Part 2 of APTA's "Head in the Game" series on concussions in sports.

The reality is that a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that can cause long-term brain damage and diminish normal functioning. With an estimated 3.8 million sports-related concussions occurring each year, (1) concussion prevention, detection, and rehabilitation are essential elements in maintaining and restoring the health of athletes so that they can get back in the game.

Fortunately for professional football players, the National Football League (NFL) now requires medical assessments of athletes who are suspected of having a concussion. (2) The American Physical Therapy Association (APTA) has called for the inclusion of physical therapists as "an integral part of the multidisciplinary team" that diagnoses concussions. (3) As the result of a 2011 collective bargaining agreement between the NFL and the NFL Players Association, each of the 32 NFL teams now is required to have at least 1 full-time physical therapist on staff.

APTA spokesperson and ESPN injury analyst Stephania Bell, PT, OCS, CSCS explains, "Physical therapists are an integral part of the health care professional team that evaluates and manages not only athletes with concussions, but also members of the military, workers who sustain head injuries on the job, and anyone who might suffer a concussion such as from a whiplash injury or a fall. With their extensive education and training, physical therapists provide a unique contribution to the concussion care multidisciplinary team--particularly in the area of vestibular evaluation and rehabilitation."

In addition to concussion diagnosis, physical therapists also have a role to play in concussion prevention and management.

Minimizing Risk

A concussion occurs when the brain repeatedly collides with the skull, most often due to a blow to the head. Violent shaking of the head and upper body also can cause concussions. Concussion symptoms can be physical, cognitive, and emotional. According to the Centers for Disease...

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Source Citation
Boriboon, Kia. "Concussion management in football: don't shake it off: the effects of sports-related concussions can last for decades. physical therapists can play an important role in concussion detection and intervention." PT in Motion, vol. 5, no. 1, Feb. 2013, pp. 18+. Accessed 23 Sept. 2021.
  

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