Repeated, significant injury to the brain like that incurred by athletes in a number of sports may result in Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy or CTE. CTE is a progressive degenerative brain disorder associated most often with professional sports such as football, wrestling and hockey. It can also occur in military personnel or others who have been in close contact with a blast explosion. The primary symptoms of CTE are similar to dementia; memory loss, aggression, confusion and depression.
These injuries are occurring at younger ages and at amateur levels of sport as well. Sports are intensifying at an earlier age across the board and so too are sports related injuries. Some sports that provoke a greater risk for closed head injury to the brain are; cheerleading, basketball, auto racing, boxing, cricket, horse racing or horseback riding, (equestrian) field hockey, lacrosse, golf, skating (roller skating, ice skating, particularly competitive skating) judo (karate and kickboxing) motorcycle riding, rugby, skiing and snowboarding, snowmobiling, soccer and wrestling. Those sports that place a person at risk for continual repeated brain injury are football, soccer, ice hockey, wrestling, professional skating and boxing.
Concussions or periods of dizziness or amnesia associated with a specific event or head injury can result from repeated blows to the head, sometimes without loss of consciousness and are commonplace in these sports. The primary symptoms of brain injury in these instances are memory loss and personality changes.
United Psychological Services provides a unique and individualized treatment program to address the symptoms resulting from these types of concussions and/or CTE for individuals and sports programs at all levels of play. Providing the most up to date, cutting edge treatment is paramount at United Psychological Services. Our ongoing research in this area is revealing the positive outcome and significant benefit of our neurocognitive intervention program.
At United Psychological Services we can:
- Diagnose in an accurate and scientific manner using brain behavior tests and neuropsychological assessment to determine the presence of brain impairment.
- Determine intervention and treatment plans based upon the degree of injury.
- Offer treatment plans ranging from emotional or behavioral intervention to neurocognitive intervention.
- Work with the medical field to address issues related to sports injury with the combined goal of getting a healthy player back on the field.
- Address the trauma and depression that may be associated with the injury (loss of self-esteem, professional or career plans).
- Work with the academic setting regarding behavioral and teaching intervention, development of IEP plan and specific methods to effectively teach a brain injured child.
- Work with the family and school on emotional, social behavioral interventions.
- Offer an ongoing social skills group to help foster social emotional intelligence and social skills with same age peers.
- Provide neurocognitive intervention training to address the individually specific deficits found on neuropsychological evaluation.
Sports Concussion Program
Essential Facts and Hypotheses
Effects of a severe blow to the head i.e. concussion
- can impact timing, gait, distractibility, attention and short term memory
Addressing these very diverse areas of deficit completely and accurately requires two types of training or therapy:
- Cognitive therapy that is individualized for short term memory, delayed verbal and visual memory recall, working memory and learning issues, visual perceptual and executive reasoning deficits (selective attention, sequencing, integration, planning, word retrieval, deductive and inductive logical reasoning)
- Neurocognitive intervention (as modified by United Psychological Services) for deficits in attention, distractibility, gait and timing
**improving attention and timing is protective to prevent future injury
Early onset dementia may be staved off by therapeutic intervention:
- These therapies assist the brain in bouncing back as quickly as possible; ideally avoiding the potential for continued brain cellular impact through lack of intervention.
The concept that neurocognitive intervention is helpful is being embraced by all professionals as a means to hopefully produce changes within the brain:
- This rebuilding and restoration of the brain would hopefully prevent future damage and potential for another injury through improved cognitive function. Fixing the cognitive and emotional issues translates to brain recovery.
Improving emotional issues:
- By rebuilding and restoring brain function the participant feels there is hope for the future; increasing capability and general outlook. The athlete returns to the sport more quickly and more capably warding off issues related to depression and low self-esteem triggered by long durations off field due to injuries.
Many of our patients affected by traumatic brain injury have commented to us about the ways that our therapy program has impacted their lives. Neuropsychological re-evaluation reveals continued increases in memory and attention functioning following the intervention of our cognitive training program. Every individual that we have re-tested has shown some type of improvement on memory and attention evaluation.
These are a few of their comments:
AJ received our training in 2007 following a TBI. Today he is working and driving. He reports, “I went from being a foolish non-confident person to someone who can now work with children. Things are better at home, my life is much improved, my confidence is way up, my thinking is way up, my patience is way up and I feel a lot better about myself. Other people can see it. The ones that did know I was in a car accident do not see me as different. Memory and attention are much, much improved!”
TD has been in our program since 2006 and intermittently does the training following intensive work in the initial years. She suffered a head injury at the age of three years. We started working with her when she was nine years old.
“Without Dr. Fisher and the brain training program at United Psychological Services, she would not be where she is today, on the road to college.” (TD’s mom)
RL has been intermittently in our program for six years following a traumatic brain injury. “Cognitive training has allowed me to gain control of my life. I have experienced dramatic improvement in memory concentration and divided attention. I highly recommend the cognitive training program at United Psychological Services.”