Sports concussions are serious issues for professional, amateur, and "youth" athletes. Working with a healthcare provider who is board certified in neuropsychology is a great place to start when exploring options.
Dr. Rosemarie Scolaro Moser is the director of the Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey at RSM Psychology Center, LLC. She is highly credentialed, holds five board certifications, has been extensively published, and has been recognized with numerous awards and honors. Dr. Moser is a staunch advocate of preventive measures to lower the risks of concussion, as well as an expert in pre- and post-concussion assessment, an important part of treatment.
"Neuropsychologists possess expertise in neuro-cognitive evaluation that helps us understand how the brain is working," she said. "Pre-season and post-concussion tests measure brain skills such as attention, concentration, memory, and speed of processing. These tests are best interpreted by someone who has studied the brain and knows cognition."
Dr. Moser is a specialist when it comes to this important testing. She’s a force in the public education effort to get the word out –– especially to high school and younger athletes and their parents –– that sometimes, preventive gear isn’t enough.
"It’s always important to wear the right gear for your particular sport," she noted. "But helmets and mouth guards won’t prevent all injuries. You can sustain a concussion without even hitting your head, from a whiplash motion or from a rotation that jars the brain within the skull."
Dr. Moser, who served as the team neuropsychologist for the Philadelphia Soul Arena Pro-Football Team, explains that once the brain is concussed, the chance of a second concussion grows. And if the problems from the first are not adequately resolved, the second can cause more, long-lasting issues.
"That’s why pre-season baseline testing before a concussion occurs is so valuable. I call this part of ‘brain hygiene.’ And it’s critical you manage a concussion before you go back to play," she emphasized. "Think of the brain as a very delicate network of fibers, cells and chemicals. Hitting it, shaking it or rotating it hard disturbs the delicate neural network. Athletes should not go back to play until they are cleared to do so by a health care professional who has expertise in concussion management."
"Cleared" means being screened by a physician to make sure there’s no bleeding or other medical issues, and then partnering with a neuropsychologist to manage the recovery.
Dr. Moser laments that a concussion’s long-term impact to young athletes can be further reaching because the brain is not fully developed. By educating school administrators, athletic trainers, and parents, Dr. Moser hopes to make "brain hygiene" a routine part of sports.
"Kids are starting sports earlier and earlier, and doing multiple sports year-round," she added. "This increases the number of athletic exposures and the risk of concussion. Pre-season screening for appropriate concussion management is prudent to safeguard our athletes."
Parents may learn more by going to www.sccnj.com and clicking on "What Every Parent & Athlete Should Know Article."
Sports Concussion Center of New Jersey at RSM Psychology Center, LLC. 3131 Princeton Pike, Building 5, Suite 110, Lawrenceville. 609-895-1070. www.sccnj.com