With school back in session and the return to fall sports like football and soccer, the risk of concussions for any child who steps out on the field is high.
It is estimated that more than one million kids under the age of 18 suffer from sports-related concussions each year.
Pediatrix Specialty Care of Austin offers an extensive Sports Neurology Program guided by our team of pediatric neurology specialists who not only treat concussions but other neurological conditions that may strike a young athlete as well, such as migraines, epilepsy and ADHD. Our sports neurologists also work on medication management for young athletes who may be transitioning to college sports where the regulations for certain substances are stringent.
Our program features a community-based approach and work with many local schools, trainers and youth sports teams to ensure that students are playing in the safest way possible.
Dr. Kate Labiner is one of our lead sports neurology specialists, and a former college athlete herself, who also serves on the consulting medical team for Austin FC.
Below she shares in detail what the field of sports neurology entails, and when it’s important for your child to see a specialist for their brain health and care.
What is a sports neurologist?
A sports neurologist is a specialist in injuries related to athletics and common neurologic conditions in athletes. My main area of interest is the transition from high school to college since the NCAA has specific requirements based on sport regarding medications. Many people assume it’s all concussion related, but this is a small subsection of what we do.
This is a newer field of medicine, why do you feel there was a need for this sub-specialty?
Concussions are the main focus for sports neurology and this has been a hot topic in medicine and sports over the past few years. With increasing focus on brain health and how this is impacted in athletics, especially at young ages, there became a need for this in neurology.
In addition, the rules for athletes as they progress through sports into college change in regards to their medications. Certain sports are not allowed medications due to how they could affect performance. This is true for anti-convulsant to migraine to ADHD medicines.
Helping prepare families and patients for these transitions includes changing medicines or discussing what to expect in the exemption process. The limitations are dictated by sport and by sports governing bodies so staying up to date on this is incredibly important and part of the job of sports neurology as a portion of the sports medicine team alongside orthopedics and general sports medicine. We also work closely with athletic trainers to get athletes back to full performance at all levels.
Why should a child see a sports neurologist?
We strongly recommend seeing them after multiple concussions to discuss treatment options or going forward in athletics. Children looking to transition into collegiate athletics are also recommended to discuss their treatment with a neurologist and potentially a sports neurologist to discuss medication options and changes which may be recommended long term.
What can a patient expect at their first evaluation?
They should expect a full neurologic history review and physical exam depending on the situation. We will also discuss future athletic goals to best determine how to approach their treatment plan.
Contact Our Sports Neurologists Today
The Sports Neurology Program at Pediatrix Specialty Care of Austin offers expert care from pediatric neurologists who are specially trained to treat children and young adult athletes. Our providers address the neurological aspects of sports-related injuries in young athletes and create comprehensive, customized care plans to help them safely return to their physical activities, hobbies, and sports.
Key components of our Sports Neurology Program include:
- Expedited concussion services so that we can provide an evaluation and care plan as soon as possible following a head injury (ideally within 48 hours)
- Concussion management and ImPACT testing to monitor concussion symptoms and provide baseline assessments for neurological activity prior to and following a head injury
- Partnering with local youth sports teams, school districts, and other community first responders such as fire departments to educate about concussion and traumatic brain injury prevention and treatment
Our priority is providing patients and their families the most convenient, comfortable, and positive experience while receiving expert care from highly experienced neurologists and epileptologists.
To make an appointment with one of our board-certified specialists, please contact us here.