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Concussions in Dance

Concussion prevention and treatment has been in the news more in recent years but we often associate concussions with impact sports such as football. Regulations and protocols have been put in place to protect many athletes but dancers are often overlooked. Partner lifts, jumps, turns, or accidental collisions with another dancer all create risk for a fall or direct impact to the head. Concussions have been found to be fairly common in all forms of dance and at all ages. It is this direct blow to the head and resulting impact of the brain against the skull that can cause the brain damage and subsequent concussion. Too often, the symptoms are ignored, the dancer continues training and risks another impact or injury. A dancer may not want to report symptoms for fear of losing a part or missing an important performance. Returning to activity too soon can exacerbate the symptoms, making them last longer. This may force the dancer to miss classes or performances for an extended period as well as causing additional health risks.

Courtesy of julliard.edu

Courtesy of julliard.edu

Common symptoms of concussion include headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, numbness or tingling, decreased balance, vision changes, emotional changes, difficulty concentrating or reading, memory deficits, sensitivity to light or sound, increased fatigue and changes in sleep pattern. An individual’s response to concussion will vary on the severity of the injury and your own past medical history. Symptoms can occur immediately or may not be noticed for several days or weeks. Concussions can happen with or without a loss of consciousness, so it is always recommended to follow up with a medical practitioner that has experience with concussion treatments after any type of head trauma. Physical therapists at PhysioCare Physical Therapy are all knowledgeable about these symptoms and can to help direct care.

Treatment for concussions includes a rest from all physical activity and from cognitive activities including reading, watching TV, playing on their phone, or playing video games. Family or friends should be nearby and check in often to assess for any progression of symptoms. These precautions should continue until all symptoms have resolved and only then progress very slowly into other activities. Once all normal, daily activities are symptom free, then the dancer could begin a gradual progression back into dance and cardio activities. Continual monitoring by a medical professional and additional testing is highly recommended and often necessary prior to release to full activity to avoid risk of further injury or strain. Be sure to tell your physical therapist about any type of head injury you have experienced so we can better plan your care and make any necessary recommendations.

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