10 Things to Do After Getting a Concussion in Soccer
Dec 23, 2021
The aftermath of a concussion can have a greater impact on your well-being than the injury itself. Aside from all the concerns that come with head injuries, the most agonizing one of them all is uncertainty.
When will I recover? Will I be able to play my sport in the capacity I did before my injury? Will a concussion affect my future health? Many of these questions don’t have clear-cut answers, but you can tip the odds of a fast and full recovery in your favor by adopting some post-concussion recovery strategies.
1. Wear concussion headgear
A concussion is what we can call a “gateway injury” - one or more concussions makes you susceptible to getting others in the future. This can lead to progressively fatal conditions such as Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) or acute and often fatal second impact syndrome.
Wearing concussion headgear is not 100% foolproof against concussions, but it can cushion the blow of head trauma so that the impact is no longer concussive. Our Storelli ExoShield Headguard, for example, was found by the Virginia Tech Helmet Study to reduce the force of head impacts by 84%.
A headguard can also protect players from cuts and bruises to the head, and help players have a better awareness of their head positioning during play.
2. Do eye exercises
Concussions don’t only cloud your thinking and judgment, they also cloud your vision. Visual disturbances ranging from blurry or double vision to tracking and processing difficulties can affect your daily routine. Fortunately, these effects are usually temporary and better yet, easily manageable with eye exercises.
There are numerous eye exercises to try, and it’s ideal to have your eyesight evaluated by an optometrist so that you know what visual disturbances affect you directly. Once you know what visual problems you have, you can pick exercises to address them. With that said, you can find a list of helpful eye exercises here.
3. Get necessary diagnostic imaging
Can you “see” the effects of a concussion in a brain scan? The answer is yes and no. There’s no universal marker that shows a concussion, but there are different diagnostic tests that show signs of a concussion.
They include the likes of fMRIs, SPECT scans, DTIs, and PETs, advanced imaging tests that don’t often get recommended but have been proven valuable. Getting one of these tests can help you determine how severe your concussion was, and the results of imaging can help guide your recovery and treatment.
4. Practice rearranging sentences
Here’s a bit of a strange exercise: sentence rearrangements. They involve taking relatively short and simple sentences and rearranging the words to fit in different positions. It challenges the brain to rebuild neuronal and synaptic connections that often weaken after a concussion. It goes like this: take a 4-5 word sentence and rearrange it in the following order:
- Longest to shortest words
- Shortest to longest words
If we are to use the sentence, “I went to the store”, it would look like this using the four rearrangements:
Alphabetical: I store the to went
Backward: Store the to went I
Longest to shortest: Store went the to I
Shortest to longest: I to the went store
It looks completely nonsensical. But when it comes to rebuilding mental strength and cognitive ability, it works.
5. Play some board games
Board games aren’t just for kids. When you’re recovering from a concussion, they deliver the right amount of cognitive stimulation so you’re not over or underwhelmed. Keep in mind that board games often increase cognitive skills such as executive function, visual processing, and working memory - all of which decrease after a concussion.
With that said, there are numerous board games to choose from, so it doesn’t hurt to keep your options open. A few board games that aren’t too “cheesy” include Azul, Space Base, Dominion, and Evolution
6. Sort cards
If board games aren’t your thing, then you can try a more low-key but nonetheless brain-stimulating task: card sorting. Simply take a standard 50-card deck and find the ace for each suit. Shuffle the other cars. Then choose an order from left to right of each ace (ie. clubs, diamonds, hearts). Give yourself some time - ideally, a few seconds - to memorize the order and then turn the aces face down.
Take the deck and draw one card at a time. Look at each card you draw and then place them face down according to where you think the matching suit is located. Your goal is to have all hearts in the pile for hearts, diamonds for diamonds, and so forth.
This exercise is not very mentally taxing yet it still can boost your working memory.
7. Play pen and pencil games
Remember hangman? Tic-tac-toe? Or even Dots and Boxes? These are simplistic pen and paper games that are not only fun but stimulating for the brain without feeling like a burden to play.
These games are relaxing yet require some strategy for a player to win. Also, they challenge your concentration, visual skills, and memory, all of which need strengthening after a concussion. Best of all, pen and paper games require almost no advanced setup and you can play them just about anywhere with anyone.
The term “rest” takes on a few different meanings here. First and foremost, yes, you maximum bed rest especially in the hours and days that follow a concussion. With that said, you shouldn’t exceed more than 3 days of bed rest.
There’s also cognitive rest, which means reducing the amount of brainwork you do. That means NOT doing any activities that require excessive amounts of thinking, remembering, analyzing, or decision-making.
And then there is rest from physical activity which means no exercise or sports (ie. practices or games). When it comes to cognitive and physical rest, the duration of these rest periods will likely last a few weeks but it can vary depending on the severity of your concussion.
9. Take brain-boosting supplements
It’s well known that certain vitamins and minerals can help boost brain power to some degree, but not many know that they can speed up concussion recovery. Concussions trigger a cascade of events ranging from inflammation to neuron damage, all of which are responsible for decreases in cognitive function.
Fortunately, nutritional supplementation can help reverse all of these effects. Among these nutrients are vitamins B2, B3, C, D, and E.
Other helpful supplements include omega-3s, curcumin, melatonin, creatine, magnesium and coenzyme Q10. Of course, before taking any of these supplements, it’s important to consult your doctor to ensure that they are safe for you to take personally.
10. Take light walks
Exercise is pretty much off limits in the days that follow a concussion. With that said, after a few days of bed rest, you can take brief and light walks provided you’re not raising your heart rate too much. They can help keep you energized and get the blood flowing. More importantly, light walking can help keep your spirits up during a time you’re being told to pretty much do nothing at all.
Beating the Soccer Concussion
This post may seem a bit unusual because most of the advice given here has very little to do with soccer. And that was the intent. After a concussion, you should have little to do with soccer until you get clearance from a doctor that it's safe for you to play. At that point, you can resume light drills and practices.
If there’s one thing related to soccer that you can probably start doing relatively early is to watch game footage. Use the opportunity to study what your favourite players do with and without the ball for their/your respective position. But if you have to think too hard, then wait a while.
You can always return to the pitch, but if you don’t care for your brain, you may never return to your former self.
So choose wisely.
Are you looking for concussion headgear to reduce the risk of brain injury & impact syndrome? Take a look at our ExoShield headguard and learn how it can help.