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Concussion Treatment: Let's Get Moving!

by Chelsea Ortega, DPT, SCS, CSCS

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Concussion injuries can be effectively managed through a thorough assessment by a team of medical professionals! Gone are the days of the generalizing recommendation that people who sustain a concussion sit in a dark room and be awakened every hour while sleeping. Every concussion is different and the deficits specific to each patient must be treated in order to provide the highest quality results and care.

Team-based management is ideal for care of concussion. Some healthcare professionals that can be included in this team are a physical therapist, neurologist, neuropsychologist, psychiatrist, ophthalmologist, speech therapist, occupational therapist or cognitive therapist. Some of these referrals are used more commonly for patients suffering from persistent symptoms.

Let’s delve into some of the specific treatments that physical therapists use to help you recover! One of the most important components of concussion recovery is a supervised, graded aerobic exercise program. After a concussion, there's an extended period of time during which blood flow to the brain is decreased. We used to think that exertion after concussion would be detrimental to a brain that's already been compromised. We now know that supervised aerobic exercise performed below the threshold of a patient’s symptoms can actually restore normal brain activation and improve blood flow. Therefore, it's imperative to work with a physical therapist to determine your individual sub-threshold level of exercise and get moving. Under supervision of a physical therapist, this can begin as early as the day after a concussion is sustained. In fact, those who start aerobic exercise after a very short period of rest are more likely to return to work, school and sport earlier than those who wait to begin aerobic activity.

Along with aerobic exercise, PTs can address vestibular and oculomotor deficits, balance impairments, neck pain, dizziness and headaches. We can also help progress your full return to work, school and sport. The videos below provide some examples of exercises that can be used during physical therapy for concussion treatment:

Please reach out for further guidance or to schedule an appointment with a physical therapist. Check out the other parts of this series on concussion:

What is a Concussion?

Hot Topics in Concussion

Caring for Your Athlete After Concussion

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