At Team Health Care Clinic, we enjoy the opportunity to connect with our community in general but particularly our local athletes. To that end, our chiropractors, medical providers, and physical therapists created a unique sports physical not offered in other clinics.
Any local athlete who enters our clinic receives a baseline concussion tests that will be used to compare in the future should a concussion occur. Our clinic uses the Mayo associated King Devick eye test as well as a high tech medical device that precisely measures an athletes balance.
Mayo is impressed with the King Devick test because it is an objective eye test that athletes can’t manipulate. Since at least 55% of our brain is used for eye movement, many concussions are demonstrated as eye malfunction including difficulty with reading, computer use and screen use in general. The problem is the standard eye exam in a doctor’s clinic simply isn’t able to observe subtle eye deficiency.
The King Devick does this so well that 12 of 30 National Hockey League team trainers have now switched to the King Devick test over other outdated tests. The trainers get the player’s baseline score before the season begins then retest it from the locker room after a suspected concussion. It over rides the zealous athlete who wants to return to play and convinces the trainer before they are ready.
Symptoms of Concussions
In addition to eye movement deficiency, we often see concussed athletes lose their balance and spatial awareness. Think of a boxer who gets punched too hard and staggers to the corner. Sometimes it is that obvious and everyone in the gym can see they are concussed. This is an obvious cerebellum injury and can affect all aspects of brain function even though the imbalance is what catches our eye. But how do we determine when they are fully recovered and it is safe to return?
We use balance plates, a medical device that can measure their baseline balance score and compare after the injury. It also does a comparison to others in the same age group. It is more sensitive and objective than typical balance tests.
Last year a few local athletes did return with suspicion of a concussion. We were able to retest them with the King Devick and balance plates tests to determine if they had a concussion. In those athletes that did, we were able to incorporate our team to determine the best course of therapy.
The options may include vestibular (balance) exercises, eye exercises, light and sound therapy, interactive metronome and anti-inflammatory supplements for the brain to return the athlete to full recovery as soon as possible. In some cases, we will even do an EEG/Brain Map to determine if Neurofeedback or TMS is an option.
If you have an athlete who has not received a baseline test, schedule an appointment for a sports physical and the concussion screening is included. If your child is injured, don’t put them on the sidelines and just hope they get better with time. Consider an exam to determine the precise rehab protocol for the region of the brain injured.
Joe Bertsch, DC