What Does Prevention Really Mean?
In the World of Sports Medicine Prevention s is defined as “prevention” all interventions that occur before the initial onset of disorder.
When addressing The Concussion Epidemic ,WE must use the later term. In a ever chancing fast paced sports arena one could never expect to stop something from happening. Simply being in the wrong place at the wrong time can spell disaster
As Professionals in the field of Preventative Sports Medicine, I know we all have read, or participated in protocols to Prevent Anterior Cruciate Ligament(ACL) Tears. There are literally 100s of protocols to protect the knee joint and particularly the ACL from tearing.
As Professionals we all know despite our best efforts our athletes will tear their ACLs. But that does not mean we ignore the ACL and just let things happen without at least putting forth our best efforts to prepare the athlete for competition, with the hope that our efforts as professionals have given the athlete a fair chance at not tearing the ACL.
AS professionals, why do we treat concussions completely different? We all know that concussions cannot be prevented, just as ACL tears cannot be prevented. WE prepare athletes for the contact and forces related to ACL tears. Wouldn’t it then be logical to assume that if prevention protocols that
strengthen muscles around a joint that reduces tears of a repairable ligament;
are at least equal, if not the same sense of urgency for the prevention of cervical
spine injury and traumatic brain pathologies ••• to a joint that may not be
Instead, the prevention of cervical spine injury and traumatic brain injury
has focused on better recognition, better education, better legislation, better
execution and better innovation.
Strengthening of the head, neck and surrounding cervical structures ••• is
the ONLY organic contingency within our control to prepare individuals to
withstand potentially injurious forces.
THERE IS SIMPLY NO GOOD
REASON FOR NOT TRAINING THE MUSCLES SURROUNDING THE CERVICAL
So, if we cannot Prevent Concussions, as professionals we can certainly reduce or lower the forces that can cause damage. We know subconcussive forces over time my be even more dangerous then the big ” kills shots” we see on ESPN. Subconcussive forces go undetected and over days, weeks, months and years of small strikes to the head have a cumulative and damaging effect to the athlete’s brain. One researcher coined the term death by a thousand cuts to illustrate the devastating affects of low G-force hits to the head over time. If properly training the muscles of the head and neck can “raise the bar” on the number of subconcussive hits it takes before you become cognitively impaired, that is a victory in and of it’s self.
It is imperative that health care practitioners take a ~PROACTIVE approach rather than
a REACTIVE approach in their prevention strategies. Current attempts at
“prevention” primarily involve management of the injury after the damage already
has been done.
EVERY contingency must be
painstakingly explored, considered and engaged- EVERY SINGLE ONE! Therefore,
the prudent thing, no •••the RIGHT thing to do is to PREPARE individuals •••just in
case the other preventative measures fail.