Dan Howell, an assistant professor oforthopedicsat the University of Colorado School of Medicine, understands the relationship between concussions and subsequent injury in athletes, namely, that after suffering a concussion, athletes at all levels are more likely to sustain another injury within the next year.
People with recent concussions are most susceptible to these injuries, especially when symptoms have dropped and an athlete is able to return to sports. These are particularly common in people who have neuromuscular motor control deficiencies, especially when they are paired with a cognitive task. These may occur.
Enter the intervention
Howell and the investigative team developed a research into an astudyin in which teenager athletes who suffered concussions were randomized to a standard of care typically returning to play after clearing a set of standardized protocols that assessed symptoms, cognition, and balance, or finishing the same protocol and then working with an athletic trainer.
According to Howell, injury risk reduction programs are more used in population-level studies. You take an entire high school soccer team through these neuromuscular training sessions over a season, then compare them to a team that didn''t perform the program. These studies also showed that if you have a team go through this, it can significantly reduce the risk of ACL tears.
According to Howell, the study included 27 post-concussion youth athletes, the majority of whom were patients at theSports Medicine Centerat Childrens Hospital Colorado. The athletes who were randomly assigned to the intervention worked with an athletic trainer twice a week for eight weeks; the researchers followed them for a whole year following their concussion.
We asked them every month over the following year, did you play sports? How many games did you have? How many hours did you participate plus, Did you get injured or not? Howell says. What we found is that the individuals who got through the intervention had a three-and-a-half-fold decrease in injury risk than those who did not get through the intervention every year.
Changing the rules on return-to-play
Howell hopes that the results from his study will change the way athletes return to play, putting the focus on computerized testing and self-reported symptoms to a standardized approach that can help prevent further injuries.
He and his research team are even developing a self-guided training program for athletes in situations where they don''t have access to a trained clinician, such as an athletic trainer or physical therapist.
It''s not just seeing a computer screen, doing a reaction time test, or a single balance test, according to the narrator. It''s an integration of many different systems. For example, when you''re standing here, there''s a teammate across the way to try to pass it to. But what''s your reasoning and how do you feel about the opponents? In all these instances, you need a lot of cognitive and fine motor skills.
If this is to help with at least some of the elements that can be beneficial to safety, then we think that may have an influence, according to the authors. The results of this preliminary study were fantastic, and I''m relieved to see where we''re going from here.