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Wisconsin Concussion Management with Dr. Matthew Myrvik

wisconsin concussion

While sports injuries like concussions come with serious physical symptoms, there can also be intense cognitive, emotional, and mental symptoms that often go unnoticed. Athletes who sustain concussions may experience a range of cognitive symptoms, including difficulty concentrating, memory problems, and slowed reaction times. Emotionally, they may exhibit mood swings, irritability, anxiety, or depression, which can significantly impact their overall well-being and performance. Furthermore, concussions can lead to mental fatigue, making it challenging for athletes to engage in their usual activities or maintain focus during academic tasks. As a sports psychologist, I help athletes recover from these hidden impacts by providing specialized support and strategies tailored to their unique needs. Whether it's managing stress, rebuilding confidence, or enhancing cognitive function, I work closely with youth athletes to navigate the challenges of concussion recovery and optimize their mental and emotional resilience. Get in touch today to start the process of feeling better and returning to peak performance both on and off the field.

Understanding the psychological side of concussions

Cognitive, emotional and mental changes changes after concussion are often over looked given the immediate focus on the physical injury. While the physical presentation of a concussion is very apparent, the intricate workings of the mind and the subtleties of emotional well-being may not be as readily observed. Recent studies, such as those conducted by the Journal of Pediatrics and the American Academy of Pediatrics, have brought to the forefront the far-reaching impacts of concussions on the cognitive, emotional, and mental areas of athletes. Further, drawing on my experience as a sports psychologist, I've witnessed firsthand the profound effects of concussions on the mental and emotional health of youth athletes.

Let's break down the cognitive, emotional, and mental effects of concussions:

  • Cognitive Impairment: 

    • Concussions can lead to various cognitive impairments, affecting an athlete's ability to concentrate, process information, and remember details. This can be particularly challenging for athletes who are simultaneously navigating academic demands and sports commitments. Cognitive symptoms may persist even after physical symptoms have resolved, making it essential to address these aspects during the recovery process.

  • Emotional Dysregulation:

    • The emotional toll of concussions is significant, with athletes often experiencing mood swings, irritability, and heightened emotional responses. Emotional dysregulation can interfere with interpersonal relationships, both on and off the field, adding an extra layer of complexity to the recovery journey. Recognizing and addressing these emotional challenges is paramount for a complete recovery.

  • Anxiety and Depression:

    • Studies have indicated a correlation between concussions and increased vulnerability to anxiety and depression in youth athletes. The stress of recovering from an injury, coupled with the fear of reinjury, can contribute to heightened levels of anxiety. Moreover, the physiological impact of concussions on the brain may predispose athletes to depressive symptoms, emphasizing the need for comprehensive mental health support during the rehabilitation process.

  • Impaired Stress Coping Mechanisms:

    • Concussions can disrupt an athlete's ability to cope with stress effectively. The usual stress management strategies may become less effective, requiring tailored interventions to help athletes navigate the emotional strain associated with both the injury and the recovery process. Building resilient stress coping mechanisms is integral to fostering long-term mental well-being.

  • Decreased Motivation and Confidence: 

    • A concussion can shake an athlete's confidence and motivation, leading to reluctance in returning to sports activities. Fear of reinjury, coupled with the frustration of physical limitations, can create a significant psychological barrier. Addressing and rebuilding an athlete's confidence and motivation is a nuanced process that requires a combination of cognitive-behavioral strategies and a supportive environment.

  • Social Withdrawal:

    • The emotional impact of concussions may extend to social interactions, with athletes experiencing feelings of isolation or withdrawal. Maintaining a sense of connection with teammates, coaches, and a support system is vital in mitigating the emotional challenges associated with the recovery period.

Meet Dr. Matthew Myrvik, Ph.D., CMPC | Sports psychologist providing concussion management

As a seasoned sports psychologist with over a decade of experience specializing in concussion recovery, my approach centers on empowering athletes to navigate the intricate symptoms of concussion and optimize functioning through research-based strategies. Utilizing principles from cognitive-behavioral Therapy (CBT), I tailor interventions to address the unique cognitive and emotional challenges associated with concussions. Cognitive restructuring forms a foundation, guiding athletes to identify and reshape unhelpful thought patterns that developed after the concussion that may worsen symptoms. Through skill-building exercises, athletes learn to manage cognitive impairments, enhance concentration, and bolster memory functions. Emphasizing stress coping mechanisms within a CBT framework, I guide athletes in developing resilience, fostering adaptive responses to stressors, and manage anxiety associated with the recovery journey. Additionally, goal-setting and behavior modification techniques are integrated to rebuild motivation and confidence, facilitating a positive return to sports activities. Recognizing the individual nature of each athlete's experience, my goal is to provide tailored CBT-based strategies that not only alleviate symptoms but also cultivate mental resilience, promoting a holistic and sustainable recovery. If you're seeking a personalized and evidence-driven approach to concussion management, I am here to collaborate on your path to cognitive and emotional well-being.

How working with a sports psychologist can help with concussion management

Engaging with a sport psychologist after a concussion opens avenues for specific strategies designed to manage symptoms, expedite recovery, and enhance overall well-being beyond just physical symptoms. Strategies used by a sport psychologist will focus on reshaping cognitive patterns, fortifying cognitive abilities, and addressing emotional challenges. Here are specific strategies and their benefits:

  • Cognitive Restructuring:

    • Strategy: Identify and reframe unproductive thought patterns related to recovery and reinjury fears.

    • Benefits: Promotes a positive mindset, alleviates anxiety, and enhances overall mental resilience.

  • Cognitive Skill-Building Exercises:

    • Strategy: Implement exercises targeting attention, focus, and memory deficits.

    • Benefits: Addresses immediate cognitive impairments, equips athletes with practical tools for cognitive enhancement, and fosters sustained cognitive well-being.

  • Stress Coping Mechanisms:

    • Strategy: Develop personalized stress coping strategies to manage emotional challenges.

    • Benefits: Reduces anxiety, enhances emotional well-being, and equips athletes with adaptive responses to stressors, fostering resilience.

  • Goal-Setting and Behavior Modification:

    • Strategy: Collaboratively set realistic and achievable goals to rebuild motivation and confidence.

    • Benefits: Incrementally restores motivation and confidence, instills a sense of accomplishment, and paves the way for a positive return to sports activities.

  • Education and Communication:

    • Strategy: Educate coaches, parents, and teammates on the nuances of concussion recovery.

    • Benefits: Cultivates a supportive environment, enhances communication, and fosters a network that contributes to the athlete's comprehensive well-being.

  • Individualized Approach:

    • Strategy: Tailor interventions to the unique challenges, preferences, and goals of each athlete.

    • Benefits: Acknowledges the individuality of concussion experiences, ensuring a personalized and holistic recovery journey.

Working collaboratively with a sport psychologist not only addresses immediate symptoms but also equips athletes with enduring mental tools for sustained success both on and off the field. These strategies collectively foster a supportive atmosphere, promote cognitive and emotional resilience, and contribute to the athlete's comprehensive well-being throughout the concussion recovery process.

FAQs about working with a Wisconsin concussion management professional

  • How long is a session?
    Individual sessions last 50-60 minutes.
  • What is the cost?
    Individual athlete sessions cost $175 per session.
  • Are sessions covered by Insurance?
    I do not accept direct payments from insurance companies, which means I cannot submit a claim to your insurance provider. While I do not accept insurance, I do work with work with Mentaya, a platform that helps clients get money back on out-of-network therapy sessions. If you have out-of-network benefits, Mentaya will file claims and handle the insurance paperwork to make sure you get reimbursed. They charge a 5% fee per claim and have helped people get thousands of dollars back per year. You can sign up using this link:
  • How do I pay for visits?
    You can pay with a credit card. Some clients also submit receipts for payment under their Health Savings or Flex Spending (HSA/FSA) to pay for services. I strongly recommend checking in with your HSA/FSA provider to ask what specifically you can use those accounts for my services.
  • How often are sessions?
    Athletes are typically seen every 3-4 weeks until goals are met. Goals are often met within 4-5 visits.
  • How many sessions are needed?
    Every athlete is different and the number of session varies based on the main concern, but performance concerns can often be improved within 4-5 sessions.
  • Do I need a referral?
    No referral is needed to be seen.
  • Can you see me where I live?
    Given that my services are virtual, I am not limited to one state. My ability to see athletes in certain states is based on the presenting concern. If the presenting concern is performance-related, I can see athletes anywhere in the United States. If the concern is mental health, I am licensed through PSYPACT to do tele therapy is 32 states (Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming).
  • What happens in a session?
    During the first visit, I will ask questions to get to know you and your goals for working together around your sport or concern. A plan will be set up to meet your goals and I will teach you a variety of strategies to get to your plan. Many people feel that we will only talk about feelings, but I am focused not just on feelings, but on teaching strategies to get you to where you want to be. Less talk and more action is what I believe.
  • Can parents join in the session?
    My preference is to have a combination of athlete and athlete/parent. The majority of the work will be done with the athlete alone as this allows the athlete to be the most comfortable. However, I feel that parents also need to be involved as they provide valuable information and can help reinforce learning at home.
  • Who benefits from sport psychology?
    My belief is that anyone that wants to be better would benefit from sport psychology. As we strive to be better at anything, we should (1) be only to any ideas that can help with improvement and (2) understand that sometimes we are hard on ourselves during the journey. Many athletes feel that you only need sport psychology when you are struggling. I feel you need sport psychology always as we can always work on improving.
  • Do you offer services for Sport Organizations?
    I have provided services to serves athletes, teams, and sport organizations for several years. This can be start out as a team with added individual athlete support as needed.
  • What is the age range of people you serve?
    I provide services to individuals ranging from 10-years-old through 35-years-old.
  • Can you provide mental health services?
    Given my training as a clinical psychology, I am able to be licensed in the state of Wisconsin. This allows me to provide mental health services.
  • How do I find a "qualified" Sport Psychologist?
    I believe that a provider needs to see an athlete as a "whole" meaning sports and mind. To effectively treat athletes, a provider should show knowledge (competency) in both areas. To show knowledge in mental health, a provider needs to be have a graduate level degree in counseling, psychology, or social work (PhD, PsD, MSW, LPC) and be licensed by a state to provide counseling/therapy. To show knowledge in sport, a provider should have a Certified Mental Performance Coach (CMPC) certification through the Association for Applied Sport Psychology meaning they have taking coursework, mentoring, and tests to show sufficient knowledge. However, within the field of sport psychology, there are providers that are licensed and "played" a sport that say they provider sport psychology services. And, there are CMPCs or athletes that do performance, but cannot provide mental health support. To provide the best level of support to an athlete, a provider needs to carry the education in counseling/psychology, be licensed to do therapy, and carry a CMPC. I may be a little biased as this is what I have!​
  • Do you work with people throughout Wisconsin?
    Yes! We work with clients across the entire state of Wisconsin. Some notable cities include Milwaukee, Green Bay, Madison, Eau Claire and more.

Heal from the psychological side of injury with my Wisconsin concussion management services.

In concussion recovery, considering cognitive, emotional and mental well-being is important, making the inclusion of sport psychology a crucial component. Sport psychologists, such as myself, assist athletes in navigating the cognitive and emotional challenges post-concussion, offering coping strategies, resilience-building tools, and personalized support. Recognizing the interconnectedness of physical and psychological aspects ensures a comprehensive recovery. If you or your child is on the path to concussion recovery, consider scheduling a free introductory call with me at Excel Sport Psychology. This step can provide valuable insights and tailored guidance to foster both mental resilience and overall well-being during the rehabilitation journey.

concussion management
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