Surprising Challenges That Can Affect Sports & Academic Performance

Most people know that academic and athletic performance can be negatively impacted by common medical conditions. Most tips and interventions focus on conditions like asthma and ADHD, but there are other common conditions that you might not have considered in relation to academic and athletic success.


Poor Oral Health

According to the National Institute of Health, children with poor oral health are three times more likely to miss school? Brushing your teeth may seem like a chore, but for children, poor oral health not only leads to increased absences but also poorer academic performance. Even athletic performance can be impacted by oral health. A recent study indicates that poor oral health could also impact athletic performance, mainly due to pain, inflammation, and a loss of confidence. Fortunately, most oral health concerns are entirely preventable through routine dental care like dental checkups, teeth cleanings, and old-fashioned brushing and flossing.


Motion Sickness

Millions of Americans experience motion sickness, and children are one of the most susceptible groups to this common condition. While it is often associated with boating and amusement rides, it also arises in far more common scenarios. According to DTIC, more than 40% of school children experience the condition while riding in a car or bus, and nearly 12% while on a park swing. Most children who experience motion sickness demonstrate symptoms like dizziness and vertigo, while others suffer from headaches and nausea. According to Troy Howard, “Dizziness, vertigo, and motion sickness all relate to the sense of balance and equilibrium. Researchers in space and aeronautical medicine call this sense spatial orientation, because it tells the brain where the body is "in space:" what direction it is pointing, what direction it is moving, and if it is turning or standing still.”


Such symptoms have also been linked to certain physical activities like skating, skiing, and swimming; but virtual reality technology may change that. About 25-40% of those who use VR devices notice symptoms of motion sickness. For many children, getting plenty of rest and avoiding things like reading or doing homework while riding in the car or school bus can prevent most symptoms during normal daily activities.


Acquired Hearing Loss

According to NCBI, Children with hearing loss experience delayed development in vocabulary, sentence structure, and speaking abilities. Children with hearing long struggle with both reading and math skills and may perform up to four grade levels lower than their peers. Social functioning can also suffer, as children feel more isolated. For athletes, hearing loss can impact their ability to communicate in a team setting and put them at an increased safety risk due to decreased awareness of surroundings.


A Holistic Approach

Be mindful of whole health when thinking about performance, especially during early development. Some people, especially children, might exhibit symptoms related to these conditions that go unnoticed by parents, teachers, and coaches. Academic and athletic performance gains can be made by observing symptomatic behavior and making small changes to daily routines.