As has become a bit of a habit… I found another research study of interest (I hope!) to the general public, namely the athletes among us.
A hot button topic has been Concussions and their impact on young athletes and just about everyone knows someone who has been touched by a concussion. The interesting thing about concussions though is just how far reaching their impact on the body can be. This article looked at one of the after effects of concussion; in this case lower body injuries. I know what you’re thinking; “Dr. Matt has lost his mind… he thinks concussions happen in the lower body!”, but hear me out.
What they found in the article was interesting. They followed 75 NCAA students who had suffered a concussion in their respective sports, and used the rest of the student athlete population (182 students with no concussion history) as a standard to measure against. The results showed that “The incidence of acute lower extremity musculoskeletal injury was higher among recently concussed athletes (15/87; 17%) compared with matched controls (17/182; 9%)”. In other words, those who had a concussion were almost twice as likely to suffer a lower body injury in the 90 days following the concussion. It sounds crazy…
Or does it?
As I have written, or told patients about in the past is the fact that a concussion is a brain injury of varying severity. Some may have mild side effects and deficits, others may be strongly debilitated. The fact is that most will suffer damage to what are called proprioceptors. What is that?
Proprioceptor: a sensory receptor that receives stimuli from within the body, especially one that responds to position and movement.
So all in all… we will often see damage to the areas of the body that help us sense what our joints are doing. Most notably, from a Chiropractic standpoint, is the upper neck in determining this joint position sense. The article did not go into detail about what different lower body injuries were mainly involved; but I would hazard a guess that the most prevalent one was likely ankle sprains. The inability to correct minor changes in body position during certain sport movements will often lead to rolling an ankle.
What I would have loved to have seen is a breakdown of the different sports and the occurrence of injury. Perhaps a basketball or volleyball player is more likely to have a low body injury than, for example, a hockey player. It would stand to reason due to the differences in sports that the incidence would change. It appears that they are wanting to do further research and I hope that is a point that gets addressed, as well as grading of severity of concussion in regards to lower body injury.
What does it mean to my patients? Well, what we can take from this small bit of research is that the global effect of a concussion could be farther reaching than assumed prior. Getting back into your sport should be done properly and under the right supervision. Training in the sensory departments of the brain (visual training, balance training, etc) could prove vital to improving the outlook for our athletes coming back from a concussion.
As always… this is an ever changing part of research and I will delve to update this blog if I hear interesting amendments.
Thanks for reading!