Concussions on the Rise

The NY Times just released a very alarming, but not very surprising (if I can use both of those at the same time) study from The Journal of Pediatrics about the rise of concussions among today’s youth.  Over a four-year span, there were half a million emergency room visits among those aged 8-19 for concussions, the majority of which were sports-related.  Scary, scary numbers.  Can we just read these numbers and chalk it up to bigger kids, kids playing sports at an earlier age, or even kids focusing on a single sport at a younger age, thus honing their skills in one sport instead of getting the benefit of cross training amongst several sports?  I don’t believe so.  I think we have to dig a little deeper.

Of course, we at Egoscue are ALWAYS encouraging you to ask the next questions,Why?, so let’s walk down that path.  Why are concussions on the rise?  If you know anything about Egoscue, you know we look at the body as a unit and from a posture perspective.  Position vs. condition, right?  Check out this kid’s posture (position):

If you think this is the ‘exception to the rule’, or just an extreme case of ‘poor posture’, think again.  Look around.  Look at your own children and their friends.  The above posture, with the extreme forward-head position, the shoulders hinged forward, and excessive rounding of the upper back is, sadly, not the exception but the ‘norm’.  Now, think of this young boy wearing a football helmet, adding on an additional 6-8 pounds to a structure that isn’t anywhere close to being able to support it.

Walk through what happens when this player gets tackled.  First, he gets hit in the chest by the tackler, which thrusts his head even more forward, as his upper body propels backwards (remember Newton’s law that for every action there is an equal and opposite reaction).  When he makes contact with the ground, he lands on the rounded portion of his back first (because it’s so out of position). Then his head whips back, striking the ground with an incredible amount of force, aided by the additional 6-8 pounds of helmet.  The overall result is that his body is hitting the ground segmentally, and the head is taking a beating.  If his head was stacked directly on top of his shoulders (with the ear and shoulder correctly aligned) his body would land as more a unit, and I believe prevent, or at minimum lessen the effects of, the concussion.  The force of the body coming in contact with the ground would be more evenly distributed and the trauma to the brain would be drastically decreased.

I’m not here to say that all concussions will be eliminated by doing Egoscue, but I am proposing that I think a leading factor as to why these numbers are on the rise is due to the postures that we see walking through our doors everyday.  And posture can change.

If you’ve had a concussion I’d love to hear your thoughts on what I’m proposing.  If you’re a coach, I’d love to talk about how we can help your team stay functional and concussion-free!