Preventing Concussions in Athletes
Although the majority of the media attention around concussions has been devoted to the NFL, younger athletes are far more susceptible to concussions. As awareness of the “concussion crisis” continues to grow, new research has turned to focusing on concussion prevention rather than simply treating concussions and establishing safe and efficacious “return to play” guidelines. A brand new, multi-year research study that was recently published in the Journal of Primary Prevention adds significant understanding to the prevention of concussions in young athletes. A team of researchers collaborating with athletic trainers from high schools in 25 states examined the effects of neck strengthening exercises in boys’ and girls’ lacrosse, soccer, and basketball. The researchers concluded that weaker, smaller necks were significantly correlated with concussions. Overall neck strength is a predictor of concussion and as neck strength increases, odds of concussion decrease. Take Home Message: If an athlete is participating in a contact or collision sport, comprehensive training of the head and neck muscles is an intelligent and evidence based approach to reducing concussion risk.