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CONCUSSIONS : Q & A with Dr. Sam Arredondo

September 3, 2021

photo credit - David Butler II / USA TODAY Sports


Football has officially started! The smell of clean cut grass, BBQ, fall weather right around the corner, and an uptick in concussions? Maybe, maybe not. Today we have a special guest to educate us on signs/symptoms of concussions, how to treat concussions, and if head-to-head contact is the only way to incur a concussion.

Sam Arredondo has been in the Athletic Training field for 6 years now. He's worked with football for Louisiana Tech and Washington State University. He went on to receive is Doctorate in Athletic Training in 2021 and now works full-time for the Military. With Sam being in college athletics and now helping treat soldiers in the military, he's helped diagnose and treat concussions with many individuals. 


Introduce yourself to the people! 

Sam Arredondo: My name is Dr. Sam Arredondo and I am currently an athletic trainer for the United States Marine Corps working within an air wing to support Marine pilots and mechanics, as well as Navy Sailors working within a specific aircraft group. Previously I was an athletic trainer working within Division I college football including Louisiana Tech football in the 2017 season, where I met Chase. I have a doctorate in athletic training extensive experience diagnosing and treating concussions.


What are some signs and symptoms of a concussion?

SA: Immediate signs and symptoms of a concussion can include headache, dizziness, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), nausea, vomiting, fatigue, blurry vision, feeling like you’re in a fog, amnesia surrounding the event, loss of consciousness, slowed responses and loss of balance.  Some symptoms following the event may include issues with concentration, irritability, sensitivity to light and noise, sleep disturbances, and emotional responses such as anxiety and depression.

Most importantly is that not all concussions will present the same. They are different from person-to-person and even can differ each time a person may get a concussion. Understandings all the possible signs and symptoms including their causes is important in how concussions are diagnosed and treated. Most important is recognizing that concussions do not always come from head-to-head blows seen in sports like football. They often come as a result of colliding with the ground when falling or with pieces of equipment.


What can you expect in the days/weeks to come after a concussion?

SA: It is always tough to give an exact expectation and timeline following a concussion because there is no simple answer to that. Some people may feel noticeably better within a few day and return within a few weeks, while others may deal with symptoms for several weeks following injury. The number of concussions someone has had may also have an impact on how long it takes for their symptoms to subside. Providing individual support to those with concussions often yields the best results. Getting the proper amount of rest, hydration, and nutrition to allow for recovery is the best thing you can control to return to your activities. And do not return to activity without becoming symptom-free and following a guided return-to-activity protocol guided by a training physician, physical therapist, or athletic trainer.


How do you treat a concussion?

SA: Gone are the days of keeping those with concussions in a dark room and away from electronics and things that increase their symptoms when being treating by a healthcare professional. Concussions can be grouped together by symptoms called “subtypes.” A trained healthcare professional will be able to identify what subtype(s) an individual may fall under and create a treatment plan to address post-concussion deficiencies. Much like rehabilitating an injury, we need to work to strengthen the areas that may be weakened. This often times includes a graded-exercise protocol including walking, biking, and running to allow for a slight increase in symptoms but in a controlled environment under the guidance of someone trained to assist. Oftentimes we can include rehab through eye-tracking and exercises including motion through space called “proprioception.” We can also include some balance training and memory training through specific activities. Those who may be experiences sleep disturbances and emotional distress can also speak to their physician about proper referral to support that area of recovery as well. Needless to say, there’s much more to it than just simply letting someone be alone in a dark room all day!


Are there preventative measures that can be taken to reduce your risk of a concussion?

SA: Concussions can often be prevented through mitigating the opportunity for contact with the head including reducing contact days in sport and other physical activity. There is some support to say that vision training, neck strengthening, and reaction time training can have an impact on mitigating the risk of concussion, however reducing the opportunity for concussions to occur is most important. Recently at other universities, football coaches have begun to implement individual tackling drills with a pop-up to prevent head-to-head contact between players.

There overall is no hard-and-fast rules to truly “preventing” concussions. But trained healthcare professionals can help and improving your individual ability to recognize a concussion is most beneficial in helping someone!


Thank you Dr. Sam! Great information on how to spot a concussion and what to do after you've been diagnosed with a concussion. Please don't hesitate to reach out to us at LOTS if you or a loved one have been suffering from conussion-like symptoms. 


Chase Patterson PT, DPT (9/3/21)