Sport-related concussion

Authored by: Anthony P. Kontos , R. J. Elbin

Routledge International Handbook of Sport Psychology

Print publication date:  February  2016
Online publication date:  February  2016

Print ISBN: 9781138022423
eBook ISBN: 9781315777054
Adobe ISBN: 9781317692324


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Sport-related concussion (SRC) and its effects have become one of the most prominent issues in sport during the last decade. These injuries affect everyone from youth sport athletes to collegiate and professional athletes and “weekend warriors.” The World Health Organization estimates that the worldwide prevalence rate for concussions (all causes) is 6/1000 people (WHO, 2006). Concussions affect athletes representing many sports, but are most common in collision (rugby, American football, ice hockey), contact (soccer [football], basketball), combative (boxing, wrestling), and speed/aerial sports (skiing, snowboarding, motor racing). It is estimated that between 48–200 concussions per 100,000 people occur in Australia, Europe, and the United States combined; with up to 3.6 million SRCs occurring each year in the United States alone (Langlois, Rutland, & Brown, 2006). The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention have intimated that SRCs among youth have reached “epidemic” status. Sport-related concussions occur when a direct or indirect force acts on the brain, resulting in a metabolic cascade that creates an energy imbalance in the brain (Giza & Hovda, 2001). Following an SRC, athletes experience diverse symptoms including headache, dizziness, and nausea; as well as cognitive, vestibular, oculomotor, and psychological impairments (McCrory et al., 2013). The assessment and management of SRC has moved away from grading scales toward improved diagnostic methods, individual case management recommendations, and the utilization of computerized neurocognitive test batteries to improve the management of this injury (Aubry et al., 2002; McCrory et al., 2005). We have come a long way from the days of smelling salts and the “how many fingers am I holding up?” clinical evaluation. However, the field of SRC continues to evolve with each new research finding and clinical advancement. Part of that evolution is a growing role for the sport psychology professional (SPP) as part of the concussion team.

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