Additional exercise after symptoms reduce risk of further injury in athlete with concussion – CBS Denver
AURORA, Colorado (CBS4) — A year-long study conducted by Children’s Hospital Colorado concluded that supplemental motor skills and cognitive therapy after a concussion in young athletes reduced the likelihood of injuring their arms or legs after a head injury.
The study and its findings were published Friday in the American Journal of Sports Medicine.
Athletes who suffered sports-related concussions were divided into two groups by researchers at the hospital’s Sports Medicine Center. Testing began after the athletes were symptom free and cleared to return to competition.
A group of athletes were allowed to return to competition immediately.
But the other group was held back. Athletes in this group underwent eight weeks of neuromuscular training that included core strength, multitasking, and motor skills exercises targeting balance, posture, attention, and orientation.
Exactly three quarters of the athletes who returned to competition immediately suffered at least one additional injury in the following year that cost them time from their sport.
Of the group that completed the additional training, 36 percent were injured.
“It’s important to understand that a concussion is a brain injury, but athletes can recover from it. However, previous research shows that athletes discharged after a concussion are at greater risk of later sports-related injuries, such as cruciate ligament tears or sprained ankles, than those without a concussion,” said Dr. David R. Howell, senior researcher at the Sports Medicine Center. “We want to understand the risks and ways to reduce risk so children can safely go back to doing the things they love.”
The same research team had previously found that “post-concussion deficits” were measurably demonstrated when athletes were tested for motor skills combined with cognitive exercise. They also found that these deficits may take longer to repair than concussion symptoms. This latest study reinforces the idea that these deficits also contribute to a higher risk of injury after a concussion.
“Brain injury affects many different parts of the body, and it’s difficult to assess the severity,” Howell said. “The brain is at the core of who you are – it touches every facet of your life and has many different effects on individuals. Every athlete is on a recovery spectrum after a concussion, so we need to understand what interventions or treatments might work best for each individual.”
“The clinical insight from this study was that a relatively simple and progressive procedure, performed twice a week under the guidance of an athletic trainer, can help athletes stay safe after a concussion at a time when they are potentially vulnerable to another.” could be injuries.”
This was part one of a two part study. Howell’s team next hopes to learn if this additional therapy can be successfully used via smartphone or telemedicine by athletes with concussion who are unable to receive in-person instruction.