A concussion is an injury caused by a direct blow to the head or indirectly to the body causing the head and neck to forcefully move back and forth, such as during a whiplash type of injury.
Although most concussions, about 85% to 90%, resolve in days to weeks, some individuals will go on to suffer from post-concussion syndrome. Post concussion syndrome can occur when patients suffer from concussion symptoms for more than three weeks after the injury.
A concussion can cause a cluster of symptoms such as:
- Sensitivity to light, sound and/or movement
- Balance impairments
Additionally, there may be cognitive impairments such as decreased attention and temporary loss of memory affecting the individual’s performance at school or work. For these individuals, a multidisciplinary approach to treatment will provide the best success for recovery. Patients suffering from a sports-related concussion are often treated by an entire team of people, which may include:
- Sports medicine physicians
- Physical therapists
- Athletic trainers
- Their coaches and teachers
The physical therapists at Cooper Bone and Joint Institute are specially trained to assess and develop a program that can address some concussion symptoms such as headache, dizziness, motion sensitivity, balance impairments and neck pain using vestibular rehabilitation, manual physical therapy and active exercise. The physical therapist will also provide guidance to those individuals looking to return to sports safely by following a stepwise return-to-play protocol.
Vestibular rehabilitation is a specialized physical therapy treatment typically used to treat vertigo, dizziness, motion sensitivity, imbalance and neurological injuries. At the Cooper Bone and Joint Institute, our therapists implement vestibular therapy treatment for individuals suffering from post-concussion syndrome. It is known now that vestibular injury can be caused by concussive blows to the head and leads to impairments in ocularmotor control (eye movements) needed for reading and sports, as well as imbalance and motion sensitivity.
After a personalized evaluation testing visual motor skills, balance, gait, overall range of motion, strength and coordination, our specially trained therapist will create an individualized program developed to meet each patient’s needs.
One goal of vestibular therapy is for patients to learn how to manage and reduce the physical side effects of concussion. Our therapists work with each patient’s doctors, coaches and family members to help them restore normal function and evaluate when they can return to play.
Vestibular rehabilitation treatments may include:
- Balance retraining
- Oculomotor exercises
- Home exercises
- Patient and family education