A Student Athletes’ Guide to Concussion

A Student Athletes’ Guide to Concussion

concussionWhat is a concussion?
Simply put, a concussion is a brain injury. A concussion occurs when the brain is shaken violently inside the skull. The typical cause of concussion is from a fall or bump to the head; but any significant force to the body can also be a mechanism of injury. When the brain has been shaken in the skull, it will alter the alertness of the injured person. A person does not have to lose consciousness to suffer a concussion and it can be a difficult injury to assess as there is not always a visible bump, bruise, or cut. The most common symptoms of a concussion are headaches, dizziness and nausea.  However, there are many different signs and symptoms, and some will not present until hours after the injury occurred.
Most people are aware that if they have suffered a concussion they should stop all physical activity. Recently, greater emphasis has been placed on the benefits of removing the injured person from work or school as well. Continual mental exertion can cause symptoms to remain for a longer period of time, and in order to heal, your brain needs both physical and mental rest. Many school boards already have “Return to Learn” protocols in place for when a student is concussed.
The first step after sustaining a concussion should be to seek help from a health care professional. Ideally, once a student has been diagnosed with a concussion, he/she should be absent from school until they are completely symptom free. To assist in recovery students should not use any type of electronic screen (television, computer, cell phones, iPod, etc.), and should refrain from all physical activity.
Once symptom free the student/athlete should return to school gradually, beginning with minimal school work (reading, workbooks for short periods of time.)  This can start at home in a controlled environment. Recovery times will vary. Some people are able to read for hours with no symptoms returning, while others can only read for 20 minutes.
Frequent breaks should be taken.  When the student is able to complete small amounts of work and remain symptom free, only then should they return to school on a limited basis. Ideally the student should begin partial or half days, alternating morning and afternoon sessions. Students will often require extra time for tests and assignments. Using quiet study rooms rather than the classroom will also help.
As the student returns to school full time both work load and classroom time should increase gradually. If any symptoms return when the student is working, more rest with a smaller workload is required.  Good communication between the student, teacher, parents and the school is essential throughout the entire process.  Check with your school to see if there is a concussion protocol in place. It is important to note that every concussion is different and that the steps for school and activity are guidelines only.
You should be in contact with a health care professional, like an Athletic Therapist, that can make this process individualized for each person’s symptoms and progression. An Athletic Therapist is recognized among health care professionals as being qualified to aid in concussion management. Along with rest, there are treatments such as craniosacral therapy and muscle energy techniques, an Athletic Therapist can utilize to help alleviate symptoms of concussion.
Soft tissue treatment for the neck is also recommended to relieve muscular tightness as this could be a contributing cause of a persistent headache. Athletic Therapists can help direct you to a physician, provide treatment, and educate you on the entire process; from injury to return to school, work and play.

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion:

Pressure in head
Dizziness, confusion
Neck pain
Loss of consciousness
Balance problems
Ringing in ears
Blurred vision
Sensitivity to light or noise
Feeling slowed down
Feeling “foggy” “Don’t feel right”
Change in sleep pattern; difficulty sleeping
Concentration or memory problems
Feeling more emotional
Confusion, disorientation (i.e. regarding the game, score, etc.)
any change in typical behavior or personality

http://www.parachutecanada.org/thinkfirstcanada; http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/47/5/259.full.pdf

Return to Play Guidelines

Step 1: No Activity/Complete Rest
Step 2: Light Aerobic Exercise (i.e. stationary bike for 10-15 minutes)
Step 3: Sport Specific Activity (i.e. skating, running, swimming for 20-30 minutes with NO Contact)
Step 4: Drills with NO contact (i.e. shooting, passing)
Step 5: Drills with contact (Full practice with contact once medically cleared to return) If at any point symptoms return, you must rest, and then repeat the previous step. Be aware that symptoms may return a few hours after the activity. Each step above will take a minimum of one day.

Article courtesy Amber Caughill CAT(C), BSc.Kin

Concussion Discussion Thursday March 26, 2015





Thursday March 26, 2015, 7:00pm – 8:00pm
Presentation followed by Q&A
RSVP: (905)716-9975
16945 Leslie St., Unit 14
Newmarket, ON

(North of Mulock Dr.)


What is a Concussion / MTBI
Signs and Symptoms
Assessment / Testing
Return to School Guidelines
Return to Play Guidelines

Amber Caughill CAT(C), BSc KIN
Mike Grafstein CAT(C), RMT, SMT(C)



Sports Massage

Sport Massage – A Rant


In searching the web I have come across many sites and videos claiming to do “Sports Massage”. But do these massage therapists really know and understand exactly what it takes to do sport massage and are they a Certified Sport Massage Therapist SMT(C)?

In Canada there is an examination process to be able call yourself a Sport Massage Therapist. Many massage therapists claim they do sports massage who have either passed their registration or licensing exam yet they have not gone the route of getting the proper training to perform Sport Massage.

A Certified Sport Massage Therapist SMT(C) has taken the appropriate academic and practical courses along with maintaining clinical and event hours. Once they meet a specific criteria of hours they may apply to do the written and or the practical exam.

For the longest time I did not think that there was much of a difference between what I did at sporting events for massage than what a certified sports massage therapist did.

Then I took a course from Remo Bucci, wow was I wrong! I was performing techniques that I thought would benefit my athletes like heavy percussion. Did you know that many athletes find percussion as a loud and irritating technique? You did learn in school that percussive techniques are stimulating…

After taking the advanced sport massage course I realized that I may have put my athletes into harm’s way.

Certified Sport Massage Therapists know the proper techniques and timing to use for pre, inter and post event, training or game massage.

Sport Massage is a specialization within the field of massage therapy. This is no different than an orthopedic surgeon who does extra schooling to perform ligament or muscle repairs compared to a family physician. Would you want a family physician to repair your ACL?

The key here is to know the qualifications of the massage therapist performing sports massage.

Articles like this: Sheer Hell of a Sports Massage are misleading because they suggest Sports Massage is deep tissue massage. The treatment in this article is something that any student would learn in a recognized massage therapy school.

Furthermore there are misleading sports massage videos out there as well, like this pre-event video. It lacks pace, uses oil, effleurage and petrissage. If I was swimmer I would not be going back!

Pre-event sport massage is performed within an hour of compettion as part of the athletes warm up . No oils is used! The pace used is at the speed of CPR compressions. This video gives you an idea of the of the techniques used.

Specific Sport Massage Techniques are used to treat the athlete for pre, inter and post event competition massage. You can learn these techniques by taking the Advanced Sport Massage Technique course put on by CSMTA Certified Sport Massage Therapists.

The CSMTA in Canada is the certifying body. There was a need to have a certification process to belong to the ‘Expert Provider Group” in order for massage therapists to be eligible for selection to Health Care Teams of Major Games. This is acknowledged by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC).

Massage therapists have the opportunity to get their Sports Massage Certification by becoming a member of the CSMTA and passing both the written and practical exams. For information on how to become a sports massage therapist go to the CSMTA website.


Article reproduction courtesy http://www.massagetherapypros.ca


Training for the Young Athlete

Training for the Young Athlete

Time and time again I see young athletes training or being coached as if they were “mini adults”, which eventually results in frustration, stress or even injury; sidelining them for a period of time. The physiological makeup of children and adolescents is markedly different from that of mature adults; thus a training plan or program should reflect these differences.

Preadolescents for instance have a prime window of opportunity for complex motor learning and basic movement mechanics which in turn enhances kinesthetic awareness, proprioception, coordination, and overall athleticism. A training program that utilizes this window of opportunity not only sets the groundwork for greater fluidity in movement, but also could have a positive influence in reducing the chance of injury in the future.

Sport specific training is gaining in popularity because it promises to increase ones skill set, strength, and overall conditioning, which mimics the young players chosen sport. The short-sightedness in this thinking is that it creates a one dimensional athlete, creating muscle imbalances, asymmetries, and predisposing one for overuse injuries. One of the most important recommendations on youth training is that during all stages of development, the young athlete should perform a wide range of sports and training activities in order to facilitate overall athletic development. It is advised that sport specialization should not occur until the athlete enters into late adolescence.

Strengthening muscles and connective tissues with age appropriate strength training programs prepares the body for the forces it is capable of withstanding and helps make the young player more resistant to soft tissue injuries. In adolescents, because of rapid gains in body mass, it is particularly important to strengthen these connective tissues. In young female athletes, lower body motor programming and strength development should be an area of emphasis in order to reduce the prevalence of injury.

When training young athletes one must consider the athleticism pyramid, which consists of three layers, mobility and stability, functional movement, and functional skill. A program that progresses an athlete from the base up of the pyramid to the top, will ensure proper fundamental mobility, stability and postural balances.

There is no point in trying to impose sport specific training on young athletes whose bodies have not developed the proper coordination and proper movement patterns to undergo this type of conditioning. Fundamentally the primary emphasis for young athletes should be on balanced physical development and building a foundation of athleticism to be utilized later when the shift to specialized sports preparation occurs.