New Faculty of Kinesiology physiotherapy treatment decreases time for medical clearance to return to sport.
New research by Kathryn Schneider, PhD, a researcher with the Faculty of Kinesiology’s Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute and Hotchkiss Brain Institute has shown that physiotherapy concussion treatment that combines therapy of the neck and balance system is four times more likely to lead to an athlete’s medical clearance for return to sport by eight weeks.
While many adults recover from a concussion within 7 – 10 days, a smaller percentage report prolonged symptoms. Schneider’s study set out to determine if a new approach that included cervical spine and vestibular physiotherapy could decrease the time until medical clearance is given for those with prolonged postconcussion symptoms.
Schneider’s research, recently published in the British Journal of Sport Medicine examined a group of 31 patients who took part in either a standard rehabilitation protocol of rest followed by graded exertion, or a protocol that combined vestibular rehabilitation with cervical spine physiotherapy. Patients in the experimental treatment group were much more likely to be cleared for sport after eight weeks. In fact, 73% (11/15) of the participants were medically cleared within 8 weeks commencing treatment, compared with just 7% (1/14) of the control group.
“I was somewhat surprised at how compelling the results were,” says Schneider, who is also an experienced clinical physiotherapist. “We’ve believed that treatment of the cervical spine and vestibular systems seem to help some people, but this study suggests that this approach may be of great benefit for those suffering from prolonged post-concussion symptoms including dizziness, neck pain and / or headaches.”
The current standard of care for those with post-concussion symptoms is rest followed by graded exertion. Schneider suggests that the results of this study mean that a new “hands-on active physiotherapy” approach might be more effective. “Manual therapy is believed to decrease pain and improve function through a variety of biomechanical and neurophysiological effects, which might explain the encouraging results we noted in this study.”
Sport concussion, is part of the University of Calgary’s research focus on brain and mental health. This research was funded by Alberta Centre for Child, Family & Community Research and Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute through community donations to the Alberta Children’s Hospital Foundation.