by Amanda Schroeder, BVHS PT, DPT
“When can I play again?” This is a common question first asked by athletes after sustaining a head injury. Removal from the game and rest is recommended as the first line of defense, but how long do they actually need to rest? Recent research suggests that after an initial period of rest lasting 24 to 48 hours, progressive re-engagement in activity (instead of strict rest) can improve an athlete’s recovery. This minimizes the deconditioning that an athlete can experience while recovering and helps get them back in the game quicker. Not only does this concept apply to our sports athletes, but also our “everyday athletes” in the work field, classroom, etc.
Treating a concussion takes a team approach. It can involve a physician, physical therapist (PT), occupational therapist (OT) and speech language pathologist (SLP), as well as other healthcare professionals. Under PT, OT and SLP, a comprehensive examination is performed to determine prescription-based daily and sport activity in response to the level of irritability of one’s symptoms.
Common concussion symptoms that can be addressed by a PT and OT include headaches, neck pain, dizziness, brain fog, vertigo, fatigue, poor balance, visual disturbances, memory, slow processing, poor concentration, poor activity tolerance and sensitivity to light or sound. Together, these professionals provide extensive education on managing your concussion and use various interventions and exercises to challenge and retrain the body systems that are impacted from the concussion.
Using a progressive rehabilitative approach under a concussion team’s guidance, you will learn how to incorporate self-management strategies and appropriate activity pacing which can be applied to all aspects of everyday life. This information can then also be shared and communicated with coaches, teachers, work supervisors and parents to promote functional brain healing outside of the clinic.
Overall, the goal of a concussion team is to return all our “athletes” back to play, work and school as safely as possible. Working together and integrating approaches and treatment methods allows this to happen easier and more efficiently. Success is measured by seeing our athletes back on the field playing their best games with smiles on their faces.
Amanda Schroeder, PT, DPT
Julie A. Cole Rehab and Sports Medicine Clinic