American Speech-Language-Hearing Association

Speech-Language Pathologists Play Important Role in Managing Sports Related Concussions

ASHA Members Will Discuss During 2010 ASHA Convention In Philadelphia

Editors: First Author Available For Interviews During And After Convention

(Rockville, MD - November 18, 2010)  

Student athletes who suffer concussions benefit from treatment by speech-language pathologists (SLPs), according to research being presented during the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association’s (ASHA) Annual Convention in Philadelphia this week.

According to ASHA member Bess Sirmon-Fjordbak and her co-presenters, a conservative estimate is that approximately one in ten student athletes sustains a concussion during practice or play every season. SLPs who work in schools are well positioned to help students with concussive injuries that cause deficits in memory, attention, naming and listening comprehension, balance, and visual-perceptual skills.  

SLPs are involved with collection of baseline cognitive-linguistic data that can be used not only as a reference point for determining severity of injury, but also as the benchmark for recovery, providing an indicator of improvement in subtle yet broad deficits—to attention and concentration, for example—that may not be readily evident on more traditional imaging studies such as a CT scan or MRI.

Prior to the point at which a student athlete sustains a concussion, SLPs are poised to educate coaches, athletic trainers, athletes, and their parents about the cognitive-linguistic functions that are affected by concussions, such as verbal reasoning, memory, problem-solving, and comprehension. Once a concussion occurs, SLPs, along with the classroom teacher, can monitor the student’s symptoms of sleepiness, agitation, inattention, lack of responsiveness, and reduced comprehension of spoken messages, which will help determine when the student can safely return to play. 

The researchers will discuss their findings during "Clinical Case Studies in Concussion Management" (Session #1075) on Thursday, November 18, at 10:00 a.m. in Room 204C at the Pennsylvania Convention Center.

Their presentation is part of ASHA's Annual Convention, which begins November 18 at the Pennsylvania Convention Center. The Convention will feature 3 days of workshops, paper sessions, poster presentations, and the Keynote Session by Nancy Goodman Brinker (Founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation), plus the Annie Glenn Award, which will be given to performing artist and "New Kid on the Block" Joey McIntyre. The Convention runs through Saturday, November 20.

These important findings are one example of the research being discussed during ASHA's Annual Convention. Audiologists and speech-language pathologists, as well as other speech, language, and hearing scientists, gather every year at ASHA's Convention to share their research with their colleagues. This sharing of information results in better care for the people they serve.

About the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association
ASHA is the national professional, scientific, and credentialing association for more than 140,000 audiologists, speech-language pathologists, and speech, language, and hearing scientists. Audiologists specialize in preventing and assessing hearing and balance disorders as well as providing audiologic treatment including hearing aids. Speech-language pathologists identify, assess, and treat speech and language problems including swallowing disorders.

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