Understanding Concussions

Back to school season is an exciting time of year -- especially for young athletes! This area boasts many high-calibre teams, and down here at Creekside, we feel privileged to work with and treat lots of talented athletes, both young and old, to help prevent and heal the injuries that can sometimes happen when you’re dedicated to a sport. But there’s one injury in particular that is incredibly important to discuss and learn about: concussions


Each year in Canada, there are over 46,000 concussions diagnosed in kids and youth under the age of 19 alone -- and roughly half of those are from contact sports and recreation. With so many of us being active, and engaging in the Kootenays’ outdoor lifestyle, it’s important to us that we fully support your rehabilitation should anything happen.

 
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While concussions are certainly complex injury, they sometimes come with misinformation that can stoke unnecessary fear. A lot of new research is emerging about concussion management, and the team at Creekside is committed to staying up-to-date on all of it, so that we can offer our post-concussion clients accurate and supportive information, along with any treatments needed.

Recent studies reveal new insights into what actually happens during a concussion. The latest research sheds light on information that the parts of the brain affected by a concussion are the ones that help it communicate with the body’s various systems.  As such, these injuries can result in a variety of problems affecting vision, balance, and coordination -- and, even more importantly, they can influence the ability to accurately integrate these different systems together. That disruption to the seamless integration of systems is part of why concussions can have so many different symptoms, and can sometimes be difficult to treat. 

Truthfully, and thankfully, most concussions heal well on their own, and don’t often need very much intervention. Most importantly, concussions need to be diagnosed quickly, and the patient must take time away from activity to recover -- while receiving appropriate care and sub-acute care -- before making a gradual and progressive return to sports and recreation in a stepwise fashion monitored by their healthcare practitioners and family doctor. 



While the majority of recoveries are uncomplicated, there is still a small percentage of concussions that don’t heal well on their own. In these cases, the team at Creekside is well-equipped and prepared to intervene and offer the assessment and care needed, so that patients can get back to feeling well and engaging fully in their lives.

 
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Ryan Sleik, Creekside’s co-owner and one of our experienced physiotherapists, has had a lengthy career in helping treat concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries.  He is a Level 2 Provider and instructor with Shift Concussion Management, and is a certified vestibular therapist through Emory University in Atlanta.

Ryan and the rest of our practitioners work hard to stay current with the most advanced rehabilitation programs and practices, through regular trainings and courses. We work as a team, calling upon the expertise of our various practitioners, to deliver the most effective concussion management available. In addition to physiotherapy, we can offer complementary treatments such as kinesiology, massage therapy, and acupuncture to ensure your healing program is comprehensive and effective.


This approach is backed up by extensive research: the Canadian Concussion Coalition advocates that a community-oriented, team approach is integral to rehabilitation -- and we couldn’t agree more. It’s important for patients to receive interdisciplinary support from our experienced team, their GP, and possibly a Sports Medicine Doctor, if needed.

 
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Concussions can temporarily disrupt the brain’s ability to integrate essential sensory information from the body’s various systems, including vestibular, vision, coordination, and neck control. Because of this, the cognitive capacities required to learn and synthesise new information can be impaired for a time, and young athletes may need to take a few days away from school after their concussion, and return with slight changes to their schedule, to ensure that recovery is smooth and symptoms don’t worsen.

 


Creekside is proud to offer the highest-quality post-injury technology available. We’re one of the only facilities in Western Canada to provide Neurotracker: a sophisticated technology at the forefront of concussion management. Neurotracker is a 3D digital training device that engages the brain with various tasks, such as tracking multiple moving targets and interpreting several simultaneous streams of information. It comprehensively engages the patient’s vestibular, visual, and cognitive systems. 


The development of Neurotracker came out of over 20 years of neurological studies, and its efficacy has been proven by research from around the world. Neurotracker is used by highly-regarded sports teams, including Manchester United, the Oakland A’s, the Vancouver Canucks, and the Washington Capitals.

 
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This impressive system can increase brainwave speeds, which are associated with heightened alertness, increased learning capacity, and the restoration of attention, memory, focus, and decision-making -- some of the vital functions that can be temporarily impacted by a concussion’s complications. 


Neurotracker is just one part of our multifaceted and comprehensive approach to concussion care. A detailed and comprehensive assessment helps us determine the right path needed to help you move forward in your recovery as effectively as possible. 

 

With the right combination of hands-on treatments, a patient’s mental capacities can be restored and strengthened after a complicated concussion, so that they can return to working, learning, and living their lives with a sense of ease and confidence. We believe that this is absolutely vital, and are proud to be able to offer extensive and multidisciplinary care after concussions and mild brain injuries.



If you have any questions about preventing or healing from concussions, or about the latest research and treatments, feel free to reach out to Creekside -- we’d be happy to answer anything that’s on your mind.



Britt Bates