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SET Performance and Concussion Awareness

As a parent, coach, athletic director, trainer, or even an athlete yourself, one of your main concerns is safety for all participants in the sport. Athletes wear helmets, pads, wraps, mouth guards, everything short of a bubble so that they can effectively and safely play their position. Yet injuries still occur due to unforeseen circumstances, rough play, and defective safety equipment. What if we as parents, coaches, athletic directors, players, and trainers could take the unforeseen circumstances and shed just a little more light?
To help understand concussions, here are some frequently asked questions:

What is a concussion?

Concussions, defined as a mild traumatic brain injury, account for 3.8 million injuries sustained in the United States each year, surely a low number as almost half of the concussions endured are never reported and diagnosed. These mild traumatic brain injuries are sometimes caused by a blow to the chest, thereby causing a whiplash effect to the head and neck. Often, a direct impact to the head is not always required, as consistent blows to the chest can have the same lasting effect. Additionally, small hits taken during practice or a game can worsen concussion susceptibility. No longer are we only concerned with the idea of being concussed, but are turning our attention to the repetitive and ill-effects of long term brain diseases.

Who is most at risk?

As it turns out, high school athletes are at a higher risk over college players to receive such hits. As easy as it is to say “my child with never play football”, traumatic brain injuries occur in less contact sports as well. College wrestling easily sustains the most TBIs of all sports, including football, while men’s ice hockey and women’s soccer follow close behind. Professional football players have recently made the decision to retire early, noting that they were more conscientious about the potential health risks. Among them include Michael Strahan, Patrick Willis, Jason Worilds, Jake Locker, Maurice Jones-Drew, and Chris Borland.

How does it effect my athlete?

Symptoms range in severity and are dependent upon numerous factors. At the mildest level, the athlete could appear dazed and may have a hard time recalling the most recent events, including the score of the game, an opponent's name, etc. The athlete may feel faint and could lose consciousness or could suffer from amnesia before or after the hit. As the severity and multitude of hits increase, so do the symptoms. These include "pressure" around the head, sensitivity to light or noise, lack of concentration, nausea, and lack of balance. Medical attention is necessary as Post Concussion Syndrome or Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy could be the diagnoses.

What can I do to protect my athlete?

While research suggests the age groups and sports most commonly associated with concussions, it does not negate the fact that concussions are accidental and unforeseen. As science has developed, we learned that we cannot prevent or cure TBIs and its symptoms. However, we can increase awareness of the skills utilized in the field of play so athletes are quicker to respond before an incident occurs. In addition, preemptive and regular baseline testing is available so that the appropriate post-concussion management strategies are set forth if an injury were to occur. Where other methods of testing pale in comparison, the D2 exceeds, providing tactile feedback for the client and trainer. By visually locating and striking a button D2 has integrated vision into the motor system making the task more compatible with CNS functioning. The Dynavision D2 has the ability to help clients in additional ways:

  • facilitate proprioceptive and balance training
  • improve mobility
  • refine motor skills and coordinations
  • improve problem solving skills and facilitate metacognitive strategy training
  • increase decision making under stress
  • exercise bilateral coordination and hand-eye coordination
  • execute a baseline testing for concussions
  • supports concussion prevention from “blind side” contact in many sports
  • initiate post-concussion management and return-to-play decisions

Research suggests that use of the Dynavision D2 in normal programming has seen a positive effect on athlete performance as well as a dramatic decrease in concussions.

Does the D2 provide challenges for non-athletes?

Absolutely! In addition to the athletic world, the Dynavision system has been used in both the medical and tactical fields. The D2 provides rehabilitation for occupational and physical therapy, including victims of stroke, TBIs, and upper body injuries. Responding to situations under pressure and removing themselves from "tunnel vision" are just two of the uses the military finds the most effective in their training.