In the past few years, concussion has received a great deal of attention as people in the medical and sports worlds have begun to speak out about the long-term problems associated with this injury. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that in sports alone, more than 3.8 million concussions occur each year. Recent scientific evidence highlights the need for proper care to prevent complications from concussion.
It is common in our practice to observe athlete’s who suffer from balance and coordination deficits following a concussion. These deficits may remain well beyond when an athlete is approved for participation is their sport. A article in Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise explored the frequency of leg injuries in athletes up to a year after having suffered a concussion. The authors hypothesized that many athletes were cleared to return to sport before their balance and coordination symptoms had fully resolved, and were therefore at a greater risk of injury while playing. In their study, the authors compared injury rates before and up to a year following a concussion with matched athletes who had not been concussed. The study found athletes were about two times more likely to injure their leg up to one year following a concussion. They also found athletes were about one and a half times more likely to suffer a leg injury following a concussion than athletes in the same sports who had not been concussed. The authors concluded that more attention needs to be paid to athletes’ dynamic balance and movement patterns prior to return to sports to minimize the risk of a new injury.