Concussions are quickly becoming an epidemic in sports, especially in fast-paced sports like hockey and football. It seems like the number of players suffering from concussions is growing at an alarming rate; the scariest part about that is that there is so much we don’t understand about concussions. One of these things is the long-term effects of the concussions on the brain. Many former NFL players have reported having psychological issues even after retiring; depression, mood swings, memory loss, and constant headaches have been reported.
The short-term effects are pretty scary too. If you just think about the return-to-play process after a concussion, there is nothing that allows you to know how long it will take to get back on the field, or the ice. Some athletes have had a mild concussion with symptoms that have lasted months.
All we know is that to return to play, you basically need to be symptom-free. But what dictates why you’re having those symptoms and how long they’re gonna last are some of the aspects of concussions that are still greatly misunderstood. Take Sydney Crosby’s case for example; he was out for almost a year with concussion-like symptoms. Although he was diagnosed with a concussion, it was later found out that most of his symptoms were coming from a neck problem.
Are concussion-like symptoms really all concussions? That’s another part of the puzzle that we need to figure out.
Problems around the cervical spine and the neck muscles can create symptoms very similar to the ones of a concussion. When you think about it, most concussions also involve some kind of whiplash, or violent neck movement, which could damage the cervical spine or strain the neck muscles.
Disruption of the visual system has also been associated with symptoms similar to the ones of a concussion. If your eyes are not aligned properly, or if you can’t focus well on objects with both of your eyes, this could be something else that might create concussion-like symptoms. Dr. Michael Peters, optometrist for the Carolina Hurricanes, mentions in his book See to Play how a disrupted visual system can create such symptoms.
The only thing we know for sure is that we don’t know enough about concussions and concussion-like symptoms. Hopefully the next couple of years will give us clearer answers. In the meantime I would strongly suggest you watch the 4-part video series below that my friend Kevin Neeld made a couple months ago about concussion-like symptoms; it’s really an eye-opener.
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