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4 June, 2021

Tackling concussion head on

HEAD knocks and concussion are a constant factor in many contact and non-contact sports. Sports administrators constantly review rule changes to ensure the wellbeing of all participants.

By Peter McCullagh

Far North Queensland athletes now have an extra level of reassurance as they head into their next season, with the launch of Cairns’ only specialist concussion management clinic.

Wellness Embodied Cairns is the only accredited Complete Concussion Management Incorporated (CCMI) concussion management clinic in North Queensland.

“Each season, approximately 10 per cent of athletes competing in contact sports suffer a concussion and, in some cases, this can lead to future problems such as dementia and mental health issues,” said Wellness Embodied Practice Principal, Suzanne Rath.

“We often see clients who have been struggling for years with symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, poor concentration or headaches who have been unable to find a treatment that works, not realising that they are among the 30 per cent of people who develop post-concussion syndrome.

“You don’t have to sustain a knock to the head or lose consciousness to have a concussion and research shows relying on feeling better alone is a poor indicator of when athletes should return to competition,” Suzanne said.

Wellness Embodied is now offering pre-season Complete Concussion Management Incorporated baseline testing, where an athlete’s balance, strength, reaction times, movement and neuro-cognitive response are measured.

Alyza Brown is making her debut with the Wanderers Rugby Union Women’s team and said it was reassuring for her and her teammates to get tested in the lead-up to the competition.

“It provided a good snapshot of where we are at, and if anything happens during the season, we know the impact can easily be measured and managed,” she said.

Repeated head knocks can have a devastating effect upon a player later in life with possible early onset dementia. In the UK a group of former players are threatening legal action over the issue.

“The Union does everything it can to make it safe as possible but it is still an uncontrolled environment with constantly changing variables in a game, you can’t control someone knocking you over in a tackle,” said Ms Brown.

Wellness Embodied also runs a physiotherapist-led concussion clinic on Mondays, where athletes who’ve sustained a concussion on the weekend can have an initial check of their cervical spine and vestibular system, receive advice on early management and gain access to the CCMI app, which provides guidance and allows athletes to report progress back to their physiotherapist and coach.

“As a local physiotherapy clinic, Wellness Embodied wanted to do more support our Far North Queensland athletes to keep them healthy on and off the field,” Suzanne said.

“Early management by a team of health professionals who are specialised in concussion symptom assessment, treatment and guidance on return to activity, is best the defence against post-concussion syndrome and lowers the risk of another concussion or injury after returning to play.”


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