MOVERS & SHAKERS
THE SPORTS BRAIN
The brains of athletes are uniquely different in that the actions on the brain sustained in playing and competing in sports have been found to put athletes at greater risk, or are associated with, a range of neurological conditions of the brain. This section details the types of Neurological conditions that have been associated with competing in sport and the crucial role of Neuropsychology in these conditions.
When an athlete breaks their leg, dislocates a shoulder or tears a ligament the rehabilitation need is clear: get a physiotherapist on board and get rehab underway. But who gets on board to help assess, monitor and prevent significant brain conditions? and who gets on board if and when a brain condition or injury is diagnosed? This is the role of the Clinical Neuropsychologist.
All of the conditions above are found, albeit rarely, in the general population. But the reason that they are listed here, is that there is strong evidence that the types of impact on the brain that is experienced in contact sport, has been linked to development of these conditions in athletes.
In all of the conditions above, which have been found to be linked to head trauma in sports,and a role growing in importance given that all of the conditions listed above, have been reliably found in athletes. Some of the conditions are also now thought to relate to participation in sport itself, as a result of exposure to repeated concussive or sub-concussive blows to the head, sustained during play or training. This means that an athlete does not even need to have contact made in their head in order for their brain to received damage by shaking violently in the skull.
The effects are numerous, from acute brain bleeds with devastating consequences for functioning and