What Is The Sub-Concussive Blow?
Turn on SportsCenter lately? Sign your athlete up for youth football? The word "concussion" is everywhere and we're learning what to look for--the hit, the stumbling, the dazed look, the headaches. But what about that other term, the less familiar phrase that is gaining popularity. We're talking about the sub-concussive blow.
This "sub-threshold hit" refers to a jolt to the head that didn't quite meet the diagnosis for concussion. It's a scenario we see often, especially in pro sports. So why the concern?
What researchers are beginning to track are the long-term consequences of these repeat sub-concussive blows. In the moment, a smaller hit may not register the classic dizziness, nausea, or headaches-but is something happening under the radar? According to a widely cited article published in the journal Radiology, these blows could be accumulating damage we don't initially see.
At 885 sub-concussive hits we start to see white matter damage, and at 1,800 hits we begin to see cognitive issues.
While our youth athletes may not be the ones most at risk for the high impact, high quantity hits seen in the pro leagues, it does make us ask, "How do we protect our players?"
"It comes down to basics--education and proper technique. Learn and master your sport's skills," says Linda Mazzoli, certified athletic trainer and Director of the Rothman Concussion Network. "We need to break down the motions to understand the body in movement. It means starting small and gradually adding equipment as the athlete grows, allowing them to gain movement control first and then build their technical skill."