With many sports injuries, patients can return to their activities when the pain and inflammation disappear and after regaining strength. After a head injury or concussion, athletes should only return to practice under supervision and with the approval of a healthcare provider.
Return to play should be gradual, and, where possible, it is essential to work with a certified athletic trainer. Here are what you need to know about concussion rehab for athletes and things you need to know.
Rest is a vital part of rehab for athletes. It is necessary to watch for symptoms of concussion each day before and after returning to play. Moving to the next step should be based on no new symptoms in the current step.
If any symptoms return or the athlete experiences new symptoms, it is a sign of pushing too hard. It is necessary to stop the activities and contact the health provider. Additional rest is crucial until there are no more symptoms.
Light aerobic exercises help increase the heart rate. Athletes in concussion recovery can prepare for returning to play by walking (treadmill), light jogging, or riding (stationary bike). Cardiovascular activity helps increase blood flow to the brain.
The exercises should be without resistance and for a short time. It is essential to be mindful of symptoms during recovery. Any worsening should be a sign to stop or slow down.
The next stage of concussion rehab for athletes involves introducing moderate activities. Noncontact exercises such as progressive aerobic exercises include drills or sports-specific activities.
The goal of the exercises is to add heart rate fluctuations and cognitive activity while increasing physical movements. The exercise routine can include brief moderate-intensity biking or running periods and modified weightlifting.
After further recovery, athletes can begin heavier, noncontact activities. The sport-specific exercises help boost activity levels. During this stage of rehab, running, sprinting, and high-intensity biking are ideal.
Sport-specific noncontact training drills help improve speed and coordination. The exercises increase cognitive demand. It is vital to assess the athlete for recurrence of symptoms.
The next stage in concussion rehab aims to help the athlete return to full-contact exercises. Taking part in standard training allows the athlete to prepare for a return to sports. It is done without the added stress and pressure associated with competitions.
Full participation in the training should only be after medical clearance. The coaching team can assess the athletes’ functional skills. It helps ensure readiness for play and self-confidence.
After completing the rehab, the athlete is ready to return to play. This happens if the patient can tolerate full-contact training activities or practice. It is the final stage of concussion recovery. After the injury is fully healed, the athlete can be declared ready for competition.
During the recovery, athletes should only move to the next step when they do not show new symptoms. Being symptom-free and getting clearance from a healthcare provider is essential. It is crucial to avoid long-term complications.
For more on concussion rehab for athletes, call Action Potential - Sports and Neurological Rehab at (512) 991-0038 for our office in Austin, Texas.