Marisa Gulizia, PT, CSCS, RYT200

Many who attend sports events or watch them on TV have heard this phrase quite frequently and know what it means.  BUT, did you know there are several people trained in concussion testing located at Harlan County Therapy Center at Harlan County Health System (HCHS) and that HCHS actually sponsors the testing for both Alma Public Schools and Southern Valley Schools?  Drs. Finkner and Durr; PAs Stemper and Taylor; plus, Marisa Gulizia are certified by the IMPACT program.

Let me introduce Marisa, PT, DPT, CSCS, Rehabilitation Director for New West Inspire Therapy located at HCHS.  Marisa, her husband, Tony, and two children, Kortlyn and Kensley, reside in Alma.  Marisa has extensive training in concussions.  She attended the following training sessions:  Advanced Vestibular Course (University of Pittsburgh, PA); IMPACT Testing; Sport Concussion Institute Training in Atlanta, GA; Spearheaded Concussion Focus Website and Lead Concussion Focus Team of Physicians, Athletic Trainers, Physical Therapists, and Sport Medicine Directors in Omaha, NE for three years; and was a guest speaker at the “Managing Concussions . . . a Team Approach” seminar hosted by UNMC in 2014.

Concussions are very serious and if not treated properly or gone undetected can result in other major medical issues down the road.  Solid links have been made between concussions and mental illnesses, which lead to severe depression and higher suicide rates.  A concussion is a type of brain injury that can damage both physical and mental wellbeing.  Although concussions usually are caused by a hit to the head, they can also occur when the head and upper body are violently shaken, as well as a fall or a blow to the body.  The bump, blow, or jolt to the head can change the way the brain normally works, due to the impact causing the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.

Sports related concussions are most common in football and girls’ soccer.  Common signs of a concussion are:  Headaches, Decreased Cognitive Function, Lack of Coordination, Pupil Dilation, Nausea, Blurred Vision, Bruising, Emotional Outbursts, Slurred Speech, and Disrupted Sleep Patterns.  Due to the traumatic impact concussions have had on many notable athletes, concussion testing is mandatory for players to return to the game.

Marisa noted most athletes are IMPACT tested their freshman and junior years at their respective high school to have a baseline for each student if a concussion should occur.  The concussion testing process would then follow:

  • Immediate Sideline Assessment by Athletic Trainer/Coach or other Medical Staff.
  • Evaluation by the Athlete’s Family Physician.
  • IMPACT Neuromuscular Retest.
  • If concussion symptoms persist – evaluation and treatment by a Physical Therapist (PT).
  • PT will assess symptoms, ocular motor system, vestibular system, balance, and reaction/coordination.
  • Athletic Trainer/Coach/PT will use a “return to sport” protocol for concussions, which measures heart rate as athletes increase their activity level to ensure no return of symptoms with a heart rate that he/she would reach in practice or a game.
  • Athletes can’t return to sports until released by a healthcare provider.

Marisa’s training in concussion testing will help athletes determine when it is safe to return to the game. So, “When In Doubt, Sit Them Out!”  Protect your children from the long range consequences a concussion may have on them.  One game is not worth the effect a concussion could have on the rest of their life.  For more information, please refer to the following websites:  www.nebsportsconcussion.org and/or http://concussionfocus.org