School is just around the corner, and for many high school and college athletes,that means sports practice and games are about to begin. Every year, the news is filled with reports of school athletes incurring sports-related injuries including worrisome concussions. A concussion is an impact injury that can affect the brain and the spine. Some serious concussions can have life-threatening complications.

Any impact sport places athletes at significant risk for concussion, but even sports like tennis or track can cause concussions if an athlete falls and makes impact with hard pavement.

The immediate results of a concussion can be significant; still, many athletes are able to return to their sport once initial treatment and follow-up are complete. But for some athletes, the effects of a concussion can be long lasting and treatment can be problematic.

Now a new study from Canadian researchers shows that for these athletes who experience persistent concussion-related symptoms, treating the spine and the inner ear can result in substantial improvement.

In fact, the study showed that people who have persistent headaches, neck pain and dizziness were much more likely to experience complete resolution – and gain medical clearance to return to their sports – within two months of therapy than were patients who did not receive the combination treatment.

Researchers found that addressing the spine helped relieve some of the mobility and pain issues that persisted following the initial treatment period immediately following the injury. Inner ear treatment – also called vestibular therapy – was used to help restore balance in patients who complained of dizziness and unsteadiness when walking.

The study emphasized that the therapy was not intended to replace initial acute treatment but rather to enhance healing especially among patients with persistent symptoms.

If you’ve suffered a concussion, whether through a sport, a fall or other injury, seek immediate medical attention from an emergency care provider. Once your acute symptoms have been managed, see your spine doctor to identify impact-related damage that can cause long-term problems like issues with mobility and pain.