Just because something was on your MRI doesn’t mean that is YOUR PROBLEM.
Sometimes I've really thought about the name Victory Sports Rehab and if it does me a disservice or not. While my training is as a chiropractic practitioner and a sports medicine doctor, what we are able to do at Victory is so much more than just waiting till you have pain or an injury. But why would you come to a rehab facility if you weren't injured?
1. Injury Mitigation
This one is probably the most obvious. Many times, injuries can be mitigated through prevention programs, exercises, and stretches by going through an appropriate screening. Obviously there is no way to prevent all injuries, but compounded injuries through bad motions, muscles, joints, etc, can hopefully be at a minimum mitigated to not be as severe (or even subclinical).
The problem we find though is there are so many programs and people claim that they can prevent injuries, so which one is correct? If you've read my blog posts before, then you probably know my answer is about to be vague.
The answer? It depends.
I promise I'm not trying to cop out, but it really is case dependent. There are a lot of general things that we can do (ACL prevention programs have done a good job of that) due to knowledge of the most common mechanisms of injuries. I can run a baseball pitcher through an arm care program and probably make them better, but the only way to truly know if what we are doing is helping is by doing a complete assessment that includes active movements, passive range of motion, and coordinated movements. In fact, coordination is a big factor I see in athletic injuries in children and adolescents. I love what Eric Cressey has to say on this-
Don't take mechanics solutions to athleticism problems. Before tinkering with mechanics, make sure a pitcher can jog to the mound without tripping.
You have to be an athlete first before you can be a "sports player". Fundamental athleticism is extremely important to every single athlete, no matter the sport. In fact, the NFHS and University of Wisconsin conducted a study that showed athletes that played 1 sport were 70% more likely to suffer an injury than an athlete that plays more than 1 sport. Why is that the case? Single sport athletes tend to overuse the same joints by playing that sport 8, 9, 10 months out of the year (in some cases all year round), which causes compound damage to joints. If you are only playing one sport, then injury mitigation and joint health has to be a priority, regardless of "pain".
2. Strength and Conditioning
A proper strength and conditioning program is VITAL to every single athlete, no matter the sport. Once again, it's not a one-size-fits-all approach. How I would train a football player is different than a baseball player and is different than a soccer player. Even within that, how I would train a lineman is different than a defensive back, different than a quarterback, etc. Finding a qualified S&C trainer is one of the two most important off season investments you can make. While your school or team may have a good coach, taking the time and investment to have someone actually look at your own movements, exercises, and mobility cannot be overstated.
The other important investment is your joint health. I just talked about injury mitigation, and that goes hand in hand with the S&C. Reinforcing proper joint motion is crucial to joint health and coordination (the athleticism I mentioned earlier). The more good input you create in your joints, the better coordinated output you will create (garbage in, garbage out model). I love how Dewey Nielson, one of the master instructors for Functional Range Conditioning and Kinstretch, describes mobility training. He basically says that having optimal mobility is like having the cheat codes to movement, and let me tell you, he is spot on!
Personal story- I recently just started rock climbing again after 3 years. I had a membership in 2015, before I started my own mobility training, and had a hard time figuring out the moves to bouldering. When I picked it back up this summer, I can tell you that even without climbing for 3 years, it seemed so much easier with having good control over my range of motion.
It is imperative for everyone, but especially for athletes, to make sure your joints are functioning at their highest potential, and one of the best ways I have found is through Functional Range Conditioning. There's no fluff, it is just science and the application of proper stress.
Honestly, you don't want to wait to see me until you have an injury. As my patients' know, I am gonna make you work, and it's usually easier to work with me when you're healthy than on your injury. My love is helping athletes who are injured get back to playing, so don't let this post fool you into thinking I don't like injuries, but all of our goals, from the athlete to the coach to the parent to the practitioner, should be to create healthy athletes at all costs. And I promise, investing into your health is less expensive than treating injuries...
The NFL Draft is this week, which means my favorite part of the NFL season is about to happen- everyone booing Roger Goodell! Should I be so excited about that? Probably not, I just have not been a fan of many of the choices he has made as the NFL Commissioner, especially when it comes down to his involvement of hiding research about traumatic brain injuries and football. But that's a whole different topic...
We do have some interesting research coming out about concussions though. Now with the eyes of the world watching the NFL and other sports on how they handle head injuries, it's really important that we pass on this information to the collegiate, high school, and adolescent sporting communities. I want to spend some time talking about how to manage a concussion and some of the misconceptions about head injuries.
1. Not every doctor or athletic trainer is qualified to diagnose or manage a concussion.
This is both from a training and legal standpoint. First, let's discuss training. Medical doctors (MDs), regardless of their speciality or training, are allowed to diagnose and sign off on return to play. That means your general physician, who probably has not had a neurology course since med school, can dictate how a concussion is treated. Not I am not saying that you should not go to your GP for a head injury, but it is important to know if you medical professional knows what the latest consensus says about head injuries (FYI, it is the 2016 Berlin Consensus, we should be expecting another one this year in 2018).
Last year, the consensus released the SCAT5, which should be the guideline for sideline assessments at a sporting event. If your trainer is using a SCAT3, I would kindly suggest asking them to updated their repertoire.
2. You have to be hit in the head to have a concussion
This is EXTREMELY false. Many concussions happen from blows to the neck or upper body. Direct head contact is not required to be considered a head injury. The force of the neck whipping can send the brain into an acceleration-deceleration vector and cause concussion-like symptoms.
3. I didn't lose consciousness, so I didn't have a concussion
Another gross misconception. Loss of consciousness (LOC) is not a requirement to be diagnosed with a concussion. In fact, a majority of concussions do not have LOC as one of the symptoms; however, LOC is a very important symptom of a possible traumatic brain injury and should be treated very seriously. Parents, you can go to our Forms Page and download the Concussion Recognition Tool version 5 to have available and if your child has any of those symptoms during or after a sporting event, get them checked out by a medical professional.
4. There is nothing that can be done about a concussion except time
Not exactly true. While we don't have any definitive research to support an exact treatment on concussions, there is a lot of evidence showing the efficacy of multiple different types of treatment. New research actually shows that returning to aerobic activity sooner can have a positive outcome on returning to sport/school/work. There is a consensus on the timeline of when to introduce different activities and levels, but the treatments during this time can be varied, from vestibulo/oculo motor training to low level laser to hyperbaric chambers and so on. Not one treatment is the only one that can work for concussions, but each treatment can be successful in it's own right.
Concussions are near and dear to me because I had a bad experience with a concussion when I was in high school. Head injuries are very serious and can have long term consequences if not treated appropriately. We do manage concussions here at Victory* and would love to be a part of helping you or an athlete you know return back to activity and soon and safely as possible.
*in the state of Texas, Dr. Blake cannot diagnose a concussion, due to scope of practice laws. We can manage and treat concussions with co-current treatment with your medical doctor. We can work with your medical doctor on creating a treatment plan that is beneficial for you or your child to allow a more integrated and successful treatment. Give us a call if you have any questions on how this can work.