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Providing Timely, Effective Concussion Care for Athletes

By Dr. Leah Lawson |

Did you know that any blow to your head, face, neck or even your body may cause a concussion if it causes your brain to move?

Concussions are serious injuries. Although they typically have short-term effects, concussions can lead to long-lasting symptoms. This is especially true if they are left untreated. This is why providing timely and effective concussion care is so important.

Treatment & Concussion Care

As someone who treats a lot of athletes, I’ve helped patients with a range of injuries. My patients have injured knees and hips, felt back pain and suffered from concussion symptoms. It’s so important to recognize and assess concussions in a timely manner. The longer someone waits to see a health care professional, the greater their risk of long-term neurological issues.

When I start treatment, my focus is on the source of the pain or discomfort. I like to help my patients understand the biomechanics of their bodies and how altering their movements and positioning can cause or help relieve pain.

Firsthand Experience

I studied kinesiology at the University of Western Ontario where I played on the varsity rugby team. During this time, I also played for Team Ontario. Rugby is a rough sport and, as a player, I got quite a few concussions. The last one was severe and I ended up having symptoms for a year and a half. My medical doctor sent me for imaging and advised me to rest and give my brain time to rest. This meant I had to limit my screen time and avoid physical activity. During that period, any time I raised my heart rate, I would get symptoms. As an athlete, this was very frustrating.

Between semesters one summer, I was working at a clinic as a physiotherapy assistant. I mentioned my situation to a chiropractor there and he offered to try to help. After he worked on some of the muscles in my neck, gave me a few adjustments and showed me some simple stretches, I finally started to feel better. I was able to start raising my heart rate without suffering from post-concussion symptoms.  After being stuck in a recovery stage for so long, this was a turning point for me. My firsthand experience as a patient made me decide to pursue a career as a chiropractor.

Coming Home

After graduating from Western, I attended the New York Chiropractic College and graduated in 2017. Prior to graduation, I was working in the Veteran’s Affairs Hospital in Miami as an intern. I enjoyed the experience working in a hospital but knew I wanted to come back to Canada. Currently, I practise out of Bayside Wellness in Collingwood and at Vitality Health in Barrie.

Caring for Active Patients

Because both Collingwood and Barrie are very active communities, most of my patients come in with sport-related injuries. Not all of them are competitive athletes; most are active recreationally, perhaps playing golfing, biking or playing hockey on the weekend. But, being active at a less competitive level doesn’t mean you’re not at risk of the same injuries.

I get quite a few patients who come in with neck, shoulder and back pain as a symptom from a concussion or as an after-effect of whiplash. For these patients, I may provide a lot of soft tissue work in their neck and back areas. When needed, I will also provide an adjustment or joint mobilization.

Typical Treatments for Concussion Care

When a new patient comes in for an appointment, I do an initial assessment and address any discomfort or pain they may be feeling. I like to focus on the way they have or haven’t been moving while we determine what’s causing their pain.

Because I tend to have more active or athletic patients, I find it important to help them understand the importance of proper movement and positioning. If they regularly play a sport, they may be experiencing an injury due to repetitive strain, improper movement, or a sudden impact, like a concussion.

Supporting Patients as a Concussion Care Team

When one of my patients comes in with concussion symptoms, I work with their medical doctor and other health care professionals to help them safely return to play. For something as serious as a brain injury, it’s important to receive timely concussion care and take the steps needed to make a full recovery. It can be frustrating at times, but knowing you have a team of health care professionals you trust can make all the difference in your on-going concussion care and recovery.

In both clinics where I practise, we rely on this interprofessional collaboration to properly treat our patients. Having a good working relationship with professionals who have different health care specialties gives you different perspectives on the condition you’re treating. Whether it’s getting the opinion of another practitioner in the clinic or connecting with another health care professional in the community, working collaboratively always benefits the patient.

Helping Others Return to Play

As a chiropractor who shares the experience of concussion care and recovery, I’m happy to help patients who experience muscle pain as a result of their injury. While I don’t make the final decision to clear a patient to return to play, I do work with their concussion care health team to help ensure their successful recovery as quickly as possible.

To book an appointment with me in Collingwood, please visit Bayside Wellness’ booking page or call the office at 705-302-0112. To book an appointment with me in Barrie, please visit Vitality Health online or call the office at 705-733-2033.

If you are looking for a chiropractor to provide concussion care and live outside of Simcoe County, you can use the ‘Find a Chiropractor‘ button at the top of our website to find a chiropractor near you.


(originally posted by the Ontario Chiropractic Association)

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