ELIOT, Maine (NEWS CENTER) -- From professional football to high school athletics, there is probably no other health issue in sports that has exploded on a national level like concussions. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury which can happen with or without a direct blow to the head.
The American Journal of Sports Medicine says as many as 300-hundred thousand high school athletes suffer concussions each year. A new law this year requires every high school in Maine to develop a concussion management policy to determine when an injured athlete can return to play and the classroom. But some experts here in Maine are exploring different ways to prevent concussions by using a very simple approach.
A number of medical experts studying the concussion problem believe weak core and neck muscles can make young athletes more of a target for concussions. They say strengthening these muscles in the body can help students brace for impact while playing contact sports. For one young hockey player -- that means taking bigger hits from bigger players and not getting hurt.
16 year old Joe Spinney, a junior on the Marshwood High School hockey team has had 3 concussions in his young career.
The last taking place during a hockey travel league game.
Joe actually stayed in and finished that game. But later suffered from light headiness and headaches. His mother took him to a doctor where he was given a nonfigurative test assessment that done through a computer test. One of the most widely used by doctors is the ImPACT TEST. Young players take the test when they are healthy to get a baseline. If they suffer a concussion, they can take the test again to see how their score compares to their own normal cognitive function. But the doctor couldn't definitely say if Joe had a concussion. But warned Joe could be out for six months if he had another concussion.
This is where Joe ended up. The Sport, Spine and Rehab clinic is run by Chiropractor Patricia Wentworth. Besides being a chiropractor for 20 years, she is also a certified athletic trainer. She has made concussion prevention the cornerstone of her clinic.
Working with Purdue University on a study, Wentworth is gathering data on the role core and neck strength play in preventing concussions.The clinic offers a 12-week program where student athletes, injured or not, can improve neck and core strength.
Using computerized equipment, these machines test the exact level of Joe's core weakness and isolates specific neck and back muscles. Joe is now lifting 133 pound, two pounds shy of his body weight. He started at 73 pounds.
For this athlete, the is proof in how he plays hockey especially when he takes a hit.
'I had one hit, slammed my head around the glass and got hit from behind, I just got back up. I do feel like I am stronger and a lot quicker and catch people who are faster than me,' said Spinney.
If you would like more information, you can go to www.sportsspineandrehabo.com or email firstname.lastname@example.org