If you’re an athlete, you know that long periods of training followed by performing at peak levels can take a toll on your body. Whether you’ve experienced an acute injury or have become hurt as a result of overuse, the professional physical therapists from Champion Performance and Physical Therapy in Prairie Village, Kansas can help you get back in the game with their effective sports physical therapy programs.

If you’re an athlete considering sports physical therapy, take a look at some of the ways in which you could benefit from treatment at Champion:

  • Less Downtime: Sports physical therapy helps athletes regain muscle strength without damaging the injured area further. This will help you proactively work to repair injured tissue and get back to your training or active recovery period faster and with less downtime.
  • Better Odds For A Full Recovery: Instead of letting an injury “ride its course,” physical therapy takes a proactive approach to healing and thus increases your odds of making a complete recovery. Under the care of a physical therapist, you’ll also know exactly when you can resume your normal activity levels again, whereas athletes who don’t seek physical therapy often try to do too much too soon and risk re-injuring themselves.
  • You’ll Receive Tailored Treatment: Some athletes make the mistake of trying to rehabilitate their injured body part on their own, but this approach overlooks the fact that each body and injury is unique. The professionals at Therapy Works utilize a number of different treatment methods and have the skills, knowledge, and experience to tailor their sports physical therapy program to the unique needs of each patient.

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What is it?
Iron deficiency and iron deficiency anemia are important, and occasionally, controversial topics in Sports Medicine.  Iron is used by red blood cells to help deliver oxygen all throughout the body.  When iron levels are too low, bodily functions are negatively affected.  Iron levels in the body can be low for reasons such as a diet deficient in iron, inadequate iron absorption in the stomach and intestines, or by loss of iron, which is a common cause in menstruating women.  Iron deficiency (ID) is the result of low iron stores. Occasionally, iron levels may be low enough to cause anemia, which is known as iron deficiency anemia (IDA).  True anemia may have negative effects on immune function, cognitive abilities, and even athletic performance.  This is particularly concerning to endurance athletes.


  • Fatigue
  • Weakness
  • Shortness of breath
  • Palpitations (a feeling of having an irregular heartbeat)
  • Diminished athletic performance

Sports Medicine Evaluation and Treatment
When an athlete suspects that he or she may have low iron levels, he/she should visit a physician.  A sports medicine physician will be aware of the association between low iron levels and decreased athletic performance, and will perform a thorough history and physical exam. Lab tests may be ordered, and are particularly important in assessing iron stores in the body. These include tests getting the level of hemoglobin, hematocrit, ferritin, and iron, among others.  Routine screening for ID and IDA in female athletes and male endurance athletes is often recommended.

An athlete with low ferritin and iron levels, and normal hemoglobin and hematocrit, is considered to have ID, but not IDA.  If the athlete also has low hemoglobin and hematocrit levels, then he or she has IDA.  For athletes with IDA, the evidence is clear that a daily oral iron supplement is beneficial in improving athletic performance.  However, there is controversy about whether iron supplementation in athletes with ID alone is helpful.  The decision to start iron supplementation in ID should be shared between the athlete, physician, and potentially, a dietician.  Iron supplementation without knowing iron levels is not recommended. 

Iron is best absorbed in the form of food, as opposed to iron supplements, so increasing the intake of iron-rich foods is important to treating both ID and IDA.  Iron-rich foods include animal protein such as red meat, chicken, and fish, as well as non-animal sources, including iron-enriched cereals and pastas, beans, and dark-green leafy vegetables.  Iron supplement absorption is improved with vitamin C supplementation. Orange juice (without calcium) is a great option to take with the supplement.  Iron supplements should not be taken with milk, coffee or calcium tablets, as these can reduce the absorption of iron.  Finally, iron supplements can cause constipation, so increasing dietary fiber intake and considering a fiber supplement is important.

Eating a healthy diet with foods rich in iron is a good way to help maintain normal iron stores in the body.  As meat is a good source of iron, athletes who adhere to a vegetarian or vegan diet should be particularly careful to ensure adequate dietary iron consumption.

Return to Play
Athletes with symptoms like weakness, shortness of breath, or heart palpitations will likely have difficulty in competition, and exercise restriction may be considered until the athlete feels better.  As iron levels increase, the athlete will likely experience improved symptoms and expect to return to a normal level of athletic performance.

Authors: AMSSM Members Kyle V. Goerl, MD; Cindy J. Chang, MD


Spring sport Athletes:

You've spent months by now preparing for these next few weeks of your seasons. Your coaches are most likely going to begin tapering your workouts so as to improve your abilities to give 100% come time for competition, but there are things you can be doing outside of practice to end your season by beating a personal record (and possibly, earning a trip to the state championship).

At Practice:

1.  Listen to your coach. 

When your coach says give 65/75/85%, DO IT. They're doing it for a reason. If you're used to going harder, understand to keep your body performing at a high level, it's imperative that the workouts decrease in intensity to maximize your body's ability to peak at the end of the season.

2.  Minimize change.

Do your best to not add anything new to your routine within a week of a big game, or meet. Your body's ability to adapt will be thrown off, as many of your workouts aren't changing during the season. You'll likely be sore, and will not be able to run as fast, or jump as high.  Any changes to your routine, including adding different lifts in the weight room, should be included at least 8 days prior to a big competition.

At Home:

1.  Get your rest.

Make sure you're getting an adequate amount of rest each night.  I won't say you need at least 8 hours, because some bodies just don't struggle to function on less sleep, but sleeping is a massive part of rebooting your brain function for mental stamina, and allows your muscles to repair. 

2.  Ice down any sore spots.

If you have a prior injury that could potentially be affected by the sport you're currently playing, make sure to listen and respond to what your body is telling you.  If an old injury is inflamed, be sure to ice and take ibuprofen as needed to minimize swelling. 

3.  Communicate with your coach.

If you have old injuries that are acting up, make sure to let your coach know so that he's aware you're trying to preserve your body for competition. Take it easy during practice, and make sure to visit your athletic trainer so he can help you manage your symptoms. If you saw a physical therapist for treatment of that injury, give them a call and ask what you can do to improve your symptoms. It may get you back to practicing at 100% faster, and allow you to feel more confident going into competition.

4.  Eat well. 

Make sure you're eating plenty of proteins to fuel your muscles as they recuperate from the breakdown that follows trying practices. Carb load around 12-24 hours prior to a big competition, and make sure you EAT the day of your competition - even if you're nervous.  Be sure to get carbs and proteins in following your competition, as that's when your body is most receptive to the nutrients. And as always, drink plenty of water to help flush toxins out of your system, both before and after. 

5.  Seniors - you're not done just yet. 

Seniors: this one goes out specifically to you. We know how difficult it is to see your friends who aren't involved in spring sports enjoying the end of their senior year, and how hard it is to not be able to be a part of that yet. However, you still are a member of a team that you've made a commitment to, and your commitment was to give your team the best you have. Spending your weekends partying will not only inhibit your ability to perform, but can get you into serious trouble if you're caught and turned in. Most schools don't hesitate to remove athletes from competition, or even the team, who get in trouble outside of school.  Not only might you not be able to compete in your most important games of the season, but you may not earn your athletic letters. Don't make this season a bust by taking the risk and making a mistake, you have all summer to enjoy your friends before you leave for college - and you want to be proud of the way you end your season. 


Multiple untreated concussions and their longterm effects have been painted in red across the media more and more frequently within the past 5 years as knowledge slowly seeps out to the general public. While concussions are likely to occur as a result of a motor vehicle accident, the most prevalent cause is from athletics, and although new rules and regulations are introduced almost every year to increase prevention in contact sports across the globe, no amount of padding in a helmet can prevent a concussion.  Therefore, as spring sports start up again within the next couple of weeks and tournament season starts for winter sports, athletes and their loved ones alike being informed on what to look for and what to expect is the best way to prevent further injury, and longterm effects. 

According to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, about 200,000 people in the United States suffer concussions while playing sports every year. Concussions occur most commonly in a wide range of sports and affect all athletes, from professional players to little leaguers.  However, they are also prevalent in motor vehicle accidents, as well, as a result of whiplash. Car accidents can lead to many injuries that seem "bigger" than a concussion, so it is vital that loved ones close to the victim keep a close eye on their neurological responses as they recover from an accident.

Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries, and sports concussion has become a significant problem.  Recognizing concussion and providing proper treatment is especially important for younger athletes because it typically takes them longer than adults to fully recover.

In addition, coaches, parents, and school administrators must be aware that concussion causes a wide range of symptoms and can interfere not only with sports participation, but with school and social relationships. Most athletes will fully recover from concussion, and understanding the varied symptoms can help with the healing process.


Despite many attempts by experts, there is no clear definition of concussion. It is uncertain whether any damage to the brain occurs from a concussion. Imaging tests, such as computed tomography (CT) scans and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans, typically do not detect any brain damage — such as bruising or bleeding — in concussion patients.

A concussion does, however, temporarily impair how the brain functions and processes information. For example, after a concussion, a patient may have difficulty with balance and coordination, memory, and speech.

A concussion is typically short-lived. Most people recover within 7 to 10 days. Unfortunately, once an athlete has sustained a concussion, he or she is at greater risk for additional concussions. Repeat concussions can have long-term consequences, so prevention is essential.  Most professional teams now have a 2-4 week timeframe before a player can even be considered to be pulled off the injured list, and many high schools in the Kansas City area have at least a 2 week benched timeframe. This may vary based on the severity of the concussion received, and the duration of symptoms following.  


Derived from the Latin word concusses, concussion means to shake violently. A concussion happens when a force causes the brain to rapidly move back and forth inside the skull. This may be caused by either a direct blow or by a blow to the body that forces the head to quickly rotate.

Although some sports have higher instances of concussion — such as football, ice hockey, and soccer — concussions can happen in any sport or recreational activity.


Because of the potential long-term consequences of sports concussion, it is important that athletes, coaches, and parents know as much as possible about how to recognize them.

Symptoms are not always obvious. Although it is commonly assumed that concussions cause loss of consciousness, many people with concussions have not been "knocked out."

Concussion causes a variety of symptoms. These may appear right away, or may be delayed for several days after the injury. Some symptoms are physical, such as drowsiness. Others are cognitive, like memory loss. In many cases, people with concussions are more emotional than usual.

The most common symptoms of concussion include:

  • Drowsiness
  • Headache
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Irritability
  • Confusion
  • Balance problems, dizziness
  • Difficulty speaking and communicating
  • Depression
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Changes in sleep patterns

Doctor Examination

During the evaluation, your doctor will ask questions about the injury and how it occurred. He or she may ask how severe the force was and whether you lost consciousness or had memory loss after the blow. It is especially important that you tell your doctor about any previous concussions you have had.

Your doctor will most likely perform a neurological examination, which tests for balance, coordination, vision, hearing, and reflexes.

Neurological Examination.

Imaging Tests

Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and computed tomography (CT) scans provide doctors with detailed images of the skull and brain. As stated above, results from MRI scans and CT scans are most often normal in concussion patients, so these tests are not usually helpful in diagnosing the injury.

If the neurological examination indicates problems, such as trouble with your vision, your doctor will order imaging scans. Also, if your symptoms worsen over time, CT and MRI scans are important for guiding treatment.

Neuropsychological Assessment

Neuropsychological testing helps to measure the effects of concussion on mental capabilities. This kind of assessment can be done using computerized tests, or during a session with a neuropsychologist.

The testing provides valuable information on a range of mental functions, such as short-term and long-term memory, attention and concentration, problem-solving, and speech.

Balance Assessment

Many athletes are unsteady on their feet for several days following a concussion. Balance testing is a way for doctors to assess how well the part of the brain that controls movement is functioning.

There are several balance tests your doctor might use, as well as more sophisticated force plate technology. Force plates are instruments that measure the forces of stepping, running, jumping and other actions. They are typically rectangle-shaped and may be used in a stand-alone device, or inserted in machines that resemble exercise equipment, like treadmills or stair steppers.


The key to healing from a concussion is complete rest. This includes not just physical rest, but mental rest, as well. Reading, computer work, video games — even television — should be limited until all symptoms have resolved. This typically takes 7 to 10 days, although some people have symptoms for weeks or months after the injury.

Once you are free of symptoms, you can gradually return to physical and mental activity. It is important to slowly return to daily activities because being symptom-free does not mean the brain injury has fully healed. Your doctor may recommend a step-by-step program: first add an activity, then monitor your symptoms. If your symptoms do not return, you can continue increasing the challenges.

This slow, steady approach typically reduces the time spent away from school, work, and athletics because it provides enough time for the injury to heal. Diving back into activities as soon as your symptoms have resolved can bring them back on and require a return to complete rest.

Return to Play

Getting back into the game too soon puts you at risk for another concussion.

If you suffer a repeat concussion before your first concussion has healed, it may take much longer for your symptoms to resolve and you may have long-term problems, such as learning difficulties or chronic headaches. Although it rarely happens, repeat concussion can cause permanent brain damage and even death.

New Recommendations

In 2010, the American Academy of Pediatrics recommended that young athletes with concussions be evaluated and cleared by a doctor before returning to sports. The American Academy of Neurology issued a similar statement, and stressed that doctors who clear athletes for return to sports should be trained in managing and assessing sports concussions.

Baseline Evaluations

Because it is difficult to determine when a concussion has fully healed, baseline neurocognitive evaluation is an important tool for assessing whether it is safe for an athlete to return to play. Before the sports season starts, each athlete takes a computerized test that measures brain functions, such as memory and reaction time. If an athlete later has a concussion, post-injury tests can be compared to the baseline evaluation to measure the severity of the concussion and help doctors monitor healing.

In addition, pre-season evaluations can help identify athletes who have had previous, unrecognized concussions and who are at risk for repeat concussions. For example, past injuries to the face or neck may have been accompanied by an unrecognized concussion.


Although injury prevention begins with proper equipment, there is no such thing as a concussion-proof helmet or mouthguard.

Young athletes must be trained in safe sports technique and to follow the rules of the game. In addition, rule changes should be considered in sports where force is delivered head first. This not only promotes fair play, but also protects both participants.

In order to get back into the game, most athletes will downplay their symptoms. Understanding the long lasting consequences of repeat concussion is an important part of prevention. Several medical and sports organizations have recently developed concussion awareness programs for athletes, coaches, and parents. These educational programs play a critical role in helping to recognize concussions and prevent repeat injury.