Suggestions for protecting against sports concussions

  • Two studies suggest that those with stronger and thicker necks, and those with a specific gene variant linked to dyslexia, are less vulnerable to concussion.
  • One study points to the value of good nights' sleep when recovering from concussion.

Can stronger necks reduce concussion risk & severity?

A review of research on the role that the neck’s strength, size, and posture play in reducing concussion risk has concluded that neck strength, size, and posture may reduce risk by lessening the magnitude of force upon impact. It’s suggested that exercises that increase neck strength and possibly size could substantially reduce risk or severity of injury.

The researchers also note that women typically have less neck strength and experience a greater concussion risk as well as greater severity of symptoms and longer duration of recovery compared to men.

Good sleep quality encourages better recovery after sport-related concussion

Data from 356 athletes younger than 19 who were diagnosed with a sport-related concussion has found that those who have good sleep quality after sustaining a concussion are more likely to recover within two weeks. Those who don't have good sleep quality often take longer to recover, sometimes greater than 30 days.

Sleep quality was assessed using a standard sleep questionnaire. 27% of athletes had poor sleep quality (a score of six or more). Girls were more likely to have poor sleep quality post-concussion than boys. Athletes with poor sleep quality reported two (2) times greater symptom severity at their initial clinic visit and three (3) times greater symptom severity at their 3-month follow-up compared to those with good sleep quality, although both groups improved over time.

Protection against concussions linked to dyslexia gene

A study of 87 varsity Penn State football players has found that the specific variant of a gene, KIAA0319, predicted the number of previously diagnosed concussions in the players. There was a direct increase in diagnosed concussions as one went from CC to CT to TT individuals.

Intriguingly, the CC genotype has previously been associated with dyslexia, suggesting that those with dyslexia may be less susceptible to TBI. It’s hypothesized that this protection may related to the more diffuse wiring often seen in those with dyslexia.



Streifer, M. et al. 2019. The Potential Role of the Cervical Spine in Sports-Related Concussion: Clinical Perspectives and Considerations for Risk Reduction. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy, 49 (3), 202-208.

The study "Association Between Sleep Quality and Recovery Following a Sport-Related Concussion in the Pediatric Population," was presented at the American Academy of Pediatrics 2018 National Conference & Exhibition, in Orlando, Fla.

Walter, A. et al. 2018. Past Concussions in a Division I Football Team: A Pilot Study. Journal of Neurotrauma.



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