Awareness and understanding levels regarding sports concussions have gone up significantly in the past couple years. However, the focus has been on the physical aspects of the injury. There are many psychological and social issues to consider when dealing with concussions as well. (See Kevin Simpson’s “Treating Kids for Concussions Also Looks At Holistic Emotional Aspects“)

“It used to be that we considered the mind and body separate,” says Michael Kirkwood, co-director of the Concussion Program at Children’s Hospital Colorado. “Current neuroscience says they’re inseparable. Stress can cause or exacerbate headaches, which can exacerbate cognitive symptoms.”

A big unknown in brain trauma treatment is just how long a young athlete should be restricted from school and social activities after a concussion. Psycho-social stressors that result from being restricted from normal everyday activities, as well as the stress that builds from worrying about falling behind in school and wondering if and when they’ll be able to play their sports again, lead to challenges well beyond the physical effects of a concussion.

The key takeaway is that doctors and family members need to consider and address psycho-social stressors as much as physical symptoms following a sports concussion. Treatment options must be considered from a holistic perspective.

For example, does the separation from classmates and teammates complicate the healing process more than it helps?

Ken Reed, Sports Policy Director, League of Fans


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