Athlete Development

May 8-9, 2021, Acumen Performance Clinic, Calgary, Alberta

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FAQ

A concussion is a disturbance in brain function caused by a DIRECT or INDIRECT force to the head. It results in a variety of nonspecific symptoms (like those listed below) and often does NOT involve loss of consciousness. Concussion should be suspected in the presence of any one or more of the following:
  • Symptoms (such as headache)
  • Physical signs (such as unsteadiness)
  • Impaired brain function (e.g. confusion)
  • Abnormal behavior/emotion.
Any athlete with a suspected concussion should be removed from play, medically assessed, monitored for deterioration (i.e., should not be left alone) and should not drive a motor vehicle.
Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) consists of two events. Typically, it involves an athlete suffering post-concussive symptoms following a head injury. If the athlete returns to play and sustains a second head injury, diffuse cerebral swelling, brain herniation, and death can occur. SIS can occur with any two events involving head trauma. While extremely rare, it is devastating in that young, healthy patients may die within a few minutes. 
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive neurodegenerative condition that is thought to occur as a consequence of repetitive mild traumatic brain injury. The literature on long-term consequences of exposure to recurrent head trauma is inconsistent. Clinicians need to be mindful of the potential for long-term problems such as cognitive impairment, depression, etc in the management of all athletes. However, there is much more to learn about the potential cause-and-effect relationships of repetitive head-impact exposure and concussions. A cause-and-effect relationship has not yet been demonstrated between CTE and concussions or exposure to contact sports. As such, the notion that repeated concussion or subconcussive impacts cause CTE remains unknown.
Due to the nature of direct and indirect forces that can cause concussions, helmets do NOT protect against concussion (mild traumatic brain injury), although they do help to dissipate some force. Hard helmets protect reasonably well against translational movements and the impact injuries they cause, reducing the risk of skull fractures and bleeding inside the skull (severe traumatic brain injury).
(McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Dvorak J, et al.  Consensus statement on concussion in sport – the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. Br J Sports Med 2017; http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bjsports-2017-097699) (Saunders R, Harbaugh R. The second impact in catastrophic contact-sports head trauma. JAMA. 1984;252:538–539)

Concussion Resources

Benson Concussion Institute (Calgary)

http://bciconcussion.ca/intro.html

Acute Sport Concussion Clinic, University of Calgary (self-referral)

https://sport-med.ucalgary.ca/clinic/ascc

Alberta Concussion Alliance

http://www.sportmedab.ca/content.php?id=1745

Below are links to standardized sideline, in-field concussion evaluation tools including a validated Rodeo-specific sport concussion assessment tool created and validated by our team members:

Content Validity of the Rodeo SCAT

https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/22960990

*These tools should be utilized and interpreted by licensed health care practitioners. If you suspect a concussion, seek care from a licensed health care practitioner.