This Month in Sports Rehabilitation: Concussion Rehabilitation (August 2012)
Concussions in sports are a common occurrence, with approximately 20 percent of the 1.7 million concussions reported annually in the U.S. attributed to athletic competition. More than 50 percent of high school athletes report a history of concussion by the time they start their freshman years, and more than one-third of collegiate athletes report multiple concussions in their sporting careers.
The vast majority recover within 10 days of injury. But what happens to athletes who continue to suffer from the effects of their concussion beyond that 10-day period?
Treating Post-concussion Syndrome
Many of these patients develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Broadly defined, the hallmarks of PCS include prolonged fatigue, headache, dizziness, irritability, insomnia, and difficulty with concentration or memory.
The standard of care for PCS has been to rest, both from physical and cognitive activity, while treating symptoms such as headaches with medications. But recent research suggests rehabilitation as an effective way to address the potentially life-altering consequences of a concussion.
Progressive aerobic exercise has been shown to be safe and effective in improving function after concussion. Additionally, exercise testing combined with a thorough examination can help properly classify PCS. Since no two patients are identical, classification allows for a refined approach to identifying each patient's specific deficits and can lead to more appropriate treatment.
Our New Program
UW Health Sports Rehabilitation is proud to introduce the Sports Concussion Rehabilitation Program. Our team, in collaboration with Sports Medicine physicians, evaluates athletes with prolonged concussion symptoms. Evaluations include a thorough assessment of the whole athlete, with special consideration given to aerobic exercise tolerance, whiplash-like cervical spine dysfunction and problems with vision and balance.
Treatment is specific to each patient but often includes elements of closely monitored sub-symptom aerobic exercise, manual therapy and therapeutic exercise for spinal dysfunction, visuomotor retraining and balance exercises.
With the fall sports season right around the corner, concussions will likely be on the rise. Most of them will recover quickly, but for those who have prolonged symptoms, Sports Rehabilitation is ready to help.