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They're just making it up

Head trauma, traumatic brain injuries, concussions, second impact syndrome, stroke, migraines, encephalitis, meningitis and many more conditions are "invisible injuries" since they require numerous assessments, observations, testing, images and further investigations to figure out what's going on with that patient due to minimal if not any physical presentations like injuries to other parts of the body. It's easy to have sympathy for someone with a broken arm because you can physically see bruising, swelling, and redness. When it comes to injuries like a concussion, presentation of signs and symptoms vary. 

I had a young athlete present years ago with atypical concussion symptoms while away on a training camp during the spring a couple of months before I passed my national exams to be a certified athletic therapist. The athlete brushed off the initial mechanism of injury, stating that they had fallen to the ground but it wasn't anything. When you're outnumbered as the medical staff traveling with multiple teams at one time, it can be quite the challenge following up with all injuries.


I kept an eye on the athlete to make sure they were still doing okay. This athlete started to have temperature changes that they were cold all the time and needed to wear multiple layers to stay warm (more than the normal compared to everyone else). That's when I had the athlete explain step-by-step on what happened on the field of play. I assessed the athlete using the SCAT tool which confirmed my suspicions that the athlete had sustained a concussion from landing on their hip.

Seems far fetched, right? Wrong. 

This is why we ask a lot of questions to solve the puzzle. It was a cooler spring day but once an athlete is warmed up, that shouldn't be a problem. Except that the ground was cold. When this athlete's hip made direct contact landing on the cold ground, it was enough to send a jolt straight up the athlete's spine resulting in a concussion. I took the athlete to the hospital to be assessed by an ER doctor since athletic therapists are advocates and guardians for the athlete being escorted depending on their age and circumstances. The emergency doctor diagnosed this athlete with a concussion following their assessment and CT scan* results. Since the training camp was in the United States, morphine had been prescribed for this young athlete. When later discussed, we agreed to not use the medication to keep an eye on the athlete's symptoms and improvements. 

*Currently, there is no diagnostic imagining tool capable of confirming the diagnosis of a concussion / traumatic brain injury. Another reason why it's difficult to 


What  are Cranial Nerves?

Every part of your body has a role and function including your nerves. To keep things simple, imagine that your nerves are like hydro (utility) poles inside your body that sends signals from your head to other parts of your body. When a hydro pole goes down, your home doesn't have electricity. Same thing happens with your body but instead of all the power gone, you may experience things like numbness, tingling, altered sensations, weakness, burning, loss of function, and many more depending on the area affected. 


With regards to cranial nerves, concussion assessments test all 12 cranial nerves to confirm their functionality. Please refer to the SCAT6 form above for more information.

Myotome Nerve Dance

The University of Manitoba's Athletic Therapy program was intense but worth it. Lucky for us, the AT4 students mentoring the AT2 students shared this "dance" to help remember which spinal nerves do what.


When an orthopedic physical assessment is being performed by a trained medical professional, such as a certified athletic therapist, muscle strength is assessed to confirm spinal nerves haven't been affected/damaged from injury.

Affects of Whiplash on Your Body

Find out what happens to your body when your body experiences whiplash. Please note that whiplash doesn't always happen from driving in a vehicle but is considered a mechanism of what your head and neck experienced. 

Recognizing Signs of Stroke

If someone you know is experiencing a stroke, please contact 911 or you local emergency number for immediate assistance. 


Time is essential when an individual starts to present with stroke symptoms. 

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