Serving up some Education on Volleyball and Concussions

  • December 2, 2019
Serving up some Education on Volleyball and Concussions

Concussion education and prevention strategies generally focuses on athletes who play high risk sports such as football and hockey. However, recent studies show even non-contact sports, such as volleyball are seeing a rise in concussions. What are the most common ways volleyball players get concussed? How can we prevent them? What should you do if a player gets a concussion? Check out the information below to learn about volleyball and concussions.

Concussion Stats

Below are some stats from a recent study of Canadian Volleyball players aged 14-19 years old conducted by the University of Calgary.

When do concussions occur?

  • 47% occur during practice
  • 38% occur during game
  • 15% occur during warm up

What are the most common ways to get a concussion in Volleyball?

  • 57% occur with ball to head contact
  • 20% occur with player to player contact (usually diving for a ball and hitting a teammate)
  • 15% occur with head to floor contact

Prevention Strategies

Many concussions in volleyball are due to poor practice and warm up organization. Here are some practical prevention tips from USA Volleyball Dr. Chris Koutures.

  • Proper match-up during practice. Players should be matched according to ability, age, ball awareness and gender to ensure a more balanced play. Concussions tend to occur when inexperienced players are matched up with older and stronger players.
  • Remove all extra equipment from around the court (i.e, chairs and benches) since players can collide with them when chasing loose balls.
  • Place protective pads on all net poles
  • 62% of concussions occur during warm up and practice, coaches and players need to minimize chaotic situations where balls are flying in all different directions.
  • Always serve in one direction, always hit in one direction;
    • Never turn your back to a hitter or server;
    • Reduce the number of free balls in the air during serving and hitting drills;
    • Call your balls to avoid collisions with teammates;
    • One ball should be in play for each defensive player.

How to Recognize a Concussion

Recognizing a concussion is the most important step in the management of the injury. Concussions are extremely difficult to recognize because you must rely heavily on athletes reporting their symptoms. If an athlete sustained a significant hit to the head OR body, you should suspect a concussion. REMOVE THEM FROM PLAY, and assess for symptoms. There are a number of different symptoms that people will experience, including physical symptoms (i.e., headaches, fatigue, dizziness, blurry vision, neck pain, balance issues, nausea), cognitive issues (i.e., poor concentration, memory issues, confusion) and/or emotional disturbances (i.e., irritability, sadness, emotional). If an athlete denies any symptoms, there are still some signs you need to look for:

  • Does the athlete appear to be disoriented, slow, or uncoordinated?
  • Does the athlete seem to be starring into space or appear dazed and confused?
  • Is the athlete sick and vomiting?
  • Did the athlete lose consciousness?
  • Is the athlete unable to respond to simple questions? Is their speech slurred?

If the athlete has any of the above signs or symptoms it is best to err on the side of caution and have a medical practitioner assess and diagnose properly. Early concussion recognition and intervention has been shown to significantly decrease recovery time and improve long-term outcomes. At Sheddon Physiotherapy and Sports Medicine all of our therapists are trained in concussion management and we strive to assess athletes with suspected concussions as quickly as possible.

Importance of a Concussion Baseline Test

There is no single clinical test that can be done to know when an athlete has sustained or fully recovered from a concussion. Occasionally, athletes sustain a hit and have a vague concussion presentation, whereby they deny symptoms, but parents feel that something seems off. In unclear cases like these, a preseason concussion baseline test comes in handy since it tests different areas of the brain that could potentially be affected by a concussion. Post injury test results need to be compared to pre-injury results in order to know if/when an athlete is at their normal pre-concussion baseline values. If an athlete does not achieve their pre-concussion baseline results in one or more components of the test, then a concussion is suspected. The baseline test is also essential for return to play decision-making. At Sheddon Phyiotherapy and Sports Medicine, we offer the most comprehensive and research proven concussion baseline testing of any sports medicine clinic in the Mississauga and Oakville area. Teams and athletes across the GTA have trusted in our baseline testing for many years. To date, we have completed over a thousand baseline tests and successfully treated well over 800 concussions. If your team would like to get a concussion baseline test completed we do offer discounted rates at over 40% off for teams. If you or your team is interested please contact Lorna at lorna@sheddonphysio.com. If you have experienced a concussion and are still suffering from symptoms, contact one of the therapists at SPSC in order to assess and treat them immediately at 905-849-4576.