I’ve been working with concussion patients for a few years now… I’ve also presented on the topic of concussions in female athletes twice nationally. When I was prepping my first talk, I came across this article. College athletes who suffered a non-contact ACL injury scored lower than their non-injured teammates on a test of verbal memory, processing speed, and reaction time. This fascinated me, because memory, reaction time, and processing speed are common symptoms after a concussion. In fact, after a serious brain injury, some athletes never quite recover their reaction time and they have lingering memory issues.
Then, I saw this article. Retired NFL players with one concussion had an 18-63% higher odds of suffering another injury. The odds increased as the number of concussions (2, 3, or more) increased – up to 165% greater chance. Granted, this study didn’t specify if the concussions happened before the other injuries, but it’s another paper asking the same question I did.
So, at my presentation, I had to ask the question “does a concussion place an athlete at risk for future injury?” I work with a ton of soccer players, and (unfortunately!) ACL injuries and concussions are the top two injuries I see. My question generated a lot of discussion, and a few weeks after the talk I received an email with this article from a colleague. College athletes were 1.97 times more likely to suffer a leg injury in the first year after concussion as compared to the year before it. The athletes with a concussion were also 1.64 times more likely to have a leg injury as compared to non-concussed athletes.
In my years working with all different types of athletes, I’ve seen ACL injuries with no concussion history and vice versa. But when I have an athlete coming to me to rehab their concussion symptoms, I feel compelled to educate these patients on the importance of ACL injury risk reduction training.
All athletes really should be working on their biomechanics with jumping, landing, and cutting, but anyone with a concussion could benefit. A concussion alters the sense of balance and coordination in an athlete – something that injury risk reduction training helps to improve. All the more reason to include plyometric training, agility drills, and core stability into a rehab program after concussion
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