Concussions in sports and specifically hockey have become a hot topic recently.  With many of the games stars missing time in recent years with concussion symptoms, people have become more aware of this problem.  So what is a concussion and what are common symptoms?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury, which is typically caused by a sudden jarring or direct blow to the head.  Common symptoms of a concussion include (but are not limited to) dizziness, nausea (feeling sick), feeling tired, fogginess, visual disturbance. and balance problems.  Concussions can cause problems with sleep, changes in personality, and altered memory lasting for extended periods, though often tests such as MRI’s do not pick up any abnormalities.

Making detection of concussions more difficult is the fact that neck dysfunction can also result in many of the above listed symptoms.  Sidney Crosby is an example of someone who was being treated for post-concussion syndrome, when apparently many of his lasting symptoms were as a result of neck problems.

A recent study in the Journal of Orthopaedic and Sports Physical Therapy by Mulligan et al (2012), found that even in the absence of reported symptoms, 71% of football players studied demonstrated at least one change in either balance or brain function 48 hrs after a game. This means that even if the athlete doesn’t report any problems, it is possible in a high contact sport such as football, the athlete might be suffering damage.

The best way to protect yourself (or your child) is to wear properly fitting equipment, be aware of symptoms, and if in doubt have your health care professional assess you.  It is often useful to have baseline data collected so consider suggesting that the trainer of your team use a screening tool at the beginning of the season, which can be repeated later if there is cause for concern.  For more information on concussions visit

At South Simcoe Physiotherapy, our therapists strive to keep current in order to provide you with the most effective treatment and allow you to get back to what it is you do!

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