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The Brain, Athletes, and Sports Performance

presented by Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD

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Financial: Adriaan Louw publishes books on pain and receive an honorarium for the sales. He co-owns and teaches for a seminar company offering continuing education for healthcare providers. Adriaan is a technical consultant for a pain science virtual reality company from which he receives royalties. He also receives compensation from MedBridge for this course. There is no financial interest beyond the production of this course.

Nonfinancial: Adriaan Louw has no competing non-financial interests or relationships with regard to the content presented in this course.

Satisfactory completion requirements: All disciplines must complete learning assessments to be awarded credit, no minimum score required unless otherwise specified within the course.

MedBridge is committed to accessibility for all of our subscribers. If you are in need of a disability-related accommodation, please contact [email protected]. We will process requests for reasonable accommodation and will provide reasonable accommodations where appropriate, in a prompt and efficient manner.

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Video Runtime: 51 Minutes; Learning Assessment Time: 23 Minutes

Advances in pain science have showcased the importance of the brain. Functionally, the brain undergoes changes during a pain experience whereby areas of the brain are tasked to process issues associated with pain versus their normal tasks. Structurally, the brain also undergoes changes during a pain experience, with cortical maps shifting, which is associated with persistent pain. Athletes are not immune to these functional and structural changes in the brain. In fact, it’s proposed that sports performance—the ultimate goal for an athlete—is significantly impacted when the brain experiences and processes pain. This course will showcase how the brains of athletes are impacted by pain and how this impact translates to sports performance. Additionally, neuroscience strategies are shown that may be of great benefit to clinicians treating athletes experiencing pain. This course applies to clinicians treating athletes of all kinds or treating any patients experiencing orthopedic injuries and pain.

Meet Your Instructor

Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD

Adriaan earned his bachelor's degree, master’s degree, and PhD in physiotherapy from the Stellenbosch University in Cape Town, South Africa. He is an adjunct faculty member at St. Ambrose University and the University of Nevada, Las Vegas, teaching pain science. Adriaan has taught postgraduate spinal manual therapy, and pain science classes throughout the US and…

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Chapters & Learning Objectives

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1. Neuroplasticity, Pain, and Athletic Considerations

The human body is represented in cortical maps in the human brain. During a pain experience, there is a structural change to these maps, which contributes to a pain experience. Strategies aimed at normalizing these maps, such as laterality training and mirror therapy, may be helpful for athletes experiencing pain and disability.

2. The Brain and Sports Performance: Part 1

Sports performance starts and ends with the brain. The brain ultimately governs bodily systems to allow for optimal performance. To perform optimally, athletes need their brains to perform optimally. Visual illusions showcase how the brain processes information.

3. The Brain and Sports Performance: Part 2

Sports performance is dependent on the brain allowing for optimal functioning. Conditions such as multitasking, decreased sleep, fatigue, etc., powerfully impact the brain and its ability to facilitate optimal performance.

More Courses in this Series

The Biopsychosocial Approach in Athletes Experiencing Pain

Presented by Adriaan Louw, PT, PhD

The Biopsychosocial Approach in Athletes Experiencing Pain

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Video Runtime: 77 Minutes; Learning Assessment Time: 31 Minutes

Pain is common in athletes, and biomedical models tying injury to pain are often used to teach athletes about pain. These models are very limited, and there is a poor correlation between pain and injury—especially in athletes. It is now well established that many athletes experience injury or tissue issues yet experience little to no pain. Pain is very complex, and a biopsychosocial approach is needed to fully understand and explain pain in athletes. A key element in pain is the brain, or, more precisely, the brain’s processing of the experience—the pain neuromatrix. During a pain experience, multiple areas of the brain become busy, forming a network of connections referred to as the pain neuromatrix, which individualizes a human’s pain experience. The brain increasingly gets busy, which impacts pain, function, and ultimately sports performance in athletes. This course is a great step into the world of pain science for clinicians treating athletes of all kinds in different stages of life and injury.

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