Issaquah Brain Training

Written By: Jessie Oliver, WPSL

Five Ways to Prevent a ConcussionHi my name is Jessie Oliver and I play for your local WPSL team. I wanted to share my experience with Dr. David Burns.

Dr. Burns is an outstanding asset for our community and it is a privilege to have him available for our team. His expertise regarding the brain and how it functions is vital and should be embraced by ISC and other youth soccer programs.

After getting a concussion on June 15th I went to see a “normal” medical doctor. Although he could see I had a concussion I was not satisfied with the results of “rest and see how you feel”. “No heading the ball for a week and take a couple days off”, was all I was told. I left still not really knowing or having any way of assessing the severity and seriousness of my concussion. The general the doctors’ ideas were good, but he had no real data to support what the issue was. Yes I had a concussion, but that could mean a lot of different things.

When I found out I had to be signed back in to play again I asked to see a different doctor and Dr. David Burns was recommended by Howard Humbyrd and Dr. Justin Lee, both of whom are involved with ISC. The visit with Dr. Burns was quite different. I was able to take objective tests that gave insight into how bad my concussion was. One of the tests was called ImPACT. The ImPACT test measures speed of reaction, memory, and all sorts of things.

Luckily I had taken this test about a year ago which served as a baseline for comparison sake. On my original test, I scored in the 95% range on several of the tests. The test scores taken with Dr. Burns were significantly lower. I scored in the 16% and 33% range which was really low. The ImPACT test along with other diagnostics that objectively assessed my balance and my eye function, coupled with Dr. David Burns’ knowledge and “functional approach” has truly helped me see what needs to be done to achieve the fastest possible recovery. Also, these tests help ensure that I will not be sent back out on the soccer field to play too soon.

I feel so much better taken care of with Dr. Burns. It’s comforting to have the appropriate diagnostics and sensible approach that he provides. It’s so important that everyone understand the real urgency with getting these baseline tests done. As soon as you think you have time, you won’t and as soon as you think you are fine, you could have a head injury. I’m so thankful to have previously taken the ImPACT test, but I am more thankful to have found someone who can accurately tell me what is best for me rather than guessing.

Dr. David Burns not only works with traumatic brain injuries but helps player’s brains work at a higher level. He made a good point when he said “How do you get better at dribbling a ball, doing a scissor or kicking the ball? You practice dribbling, doing scissors or kicking the ball. How do you get better at striking a ball in the goal when there are several distractions, stress, and tons of things happening in your mind? You practice under those conditions.” Dr. Burns creates an environment for the mind that simulates the stress the brain is under during a game, but with seemingly simple exercises. Some of the exercises he has kids do may seem silly but they really do make sense. Trapping a small ball of a certain color that is thrown at you while counting backwards and spinning helps practice many fundamental skills. And his exercises would be hard for anybody, I mean tracking a ball, and turning all while doing math? Whew, that is difficult.

Our brains are incredibly important in sports and that’s why I think what Dr. Burns is doing needs to be recognized and taken seriously. I support him and I think if the ISC wants superior level teams, that they should invest and allow time to be set aside to work the minds of each player out there. It will only make the program stronger and more valuable. If professional players and the Marines are doing this stuff, why not start younger and give important skills to the kids who want and deserve it. Take a step towards a higher level of thinking which will in turn result in a higher level of playing.


Thank You for Your Time,

Jessie Oliver, WPSL

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