As a young boy, I am embarrassed to admit that my exposure to the term “concussion” was largely limited to the storylines found in the world of professional wrestling as not a lot of information on the subject was readily available back then. In fact, it was only during a National Basketball Association (NBA) playoff game in May of last year that I got to see up-close the potential career- and/or life-threatening effects that such an injury could cause. It was Game 5 of the 2009-2010 Eastern Conference Finals and I can still remember watching a disoriented Boston Celtics basketball player named Glen “Big Baby” Davis struggle to get onto his feet and run down court after a defensive sequence against the Orlando Magic’s Dwight Howard.
It wasn’t clear what initially happened to the 6’9’’ Boston forward, but replays later showed that it was an inadvertent elbow to the face from the 6’11’’ Magic center that sent Davis crashing to the Amway Arena parquet floor where he stayed for what seemed to be an eternity. Less than a minute later, a clearly dazed Davis finally collected himself and staggered down court before being caught by NBA referee Joey Crawford.
From the perspective of a spectator—and to some degree the officials, coaches, and teammates—the hit that Davis sustained may have looked negligible given his imposing frame. But in actuality, a concussion—any concussion—is certainly no laughing matter if you take into consideration its debilitating “neuropsychologic effects” (Kushner, 2001) as well as the possible repercussions that this injury may have to their quality of life (Aldridge, 2003; Starkman, 2007; Parker-Pope, 2008; and Cahill, 2010).
To date, the initial diagnosis and management of concussions falls on team physicians or medical doctors before a “multidisciplinary team of professionals” (e.g., sport psychologists, clinical psychologists, athletic trainers, neurologists, etc.) can intervene (Powell, 2001; Fly, 2011; Krolik, 2011; and Washburn, 2011). The author adds that before any member of the multidisciplinary team can assist in the treatment and rehabilitation of professional athletes, they must first be made aware what “constitutes a concussion” as well as other forms of treatment and guidelines.
With this in mind, the focus of this research paper is to provide interested psychologists with an overview of concussions, current injury policies, and possible interventions that they can consider when treating a concussed professional athlete.
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