In recent years, there has been a lot of media attention focused on the growing incidence and prevalence of concussions experienced by today's athletes and youth. This increase, in part, is a result of an imbalance between the push for kids to be active while not providing them with appropriate protective equipment. Despite this trend, most concussions continue to be mistreated by healthcare professionals. While most have graduated from the 'wake them up every hour' myth, the common advice of 'rest until you're better' is often stated without knowing the cause or effect of concussions.
Concussions are difficult to manage because the diagnosis is based on symptoms, and currently, they cannot be detected by medical imaging or special tests. Essentially, what happens with a concussion is that the brain undergoes trauma either directly or through repetitive motions, which causes cells inside the brain to mechanically deform. To repair these cells, the brain demands more energy than what the body is able to produce, which is why both physical and cognitive rest are recommended. Unfortunately, rest alone may not always result in 100% recovery, which is why it is essential to be able to decipher the exact cause of the concussion and how to best manage it.
When treated correctly, symptoms of a concussion can be completely resolved, and the individual can return to the same level of sport they were at prior to the injury. However, if mismanaged, symptoms can last up to years and can be detrimental to the body's physical, cognitive and emotional systems.
Concussion management at SHAPE incorporates a mixture of visual, vestibular, and neurocognitive rehabilitation, as well as hands-on neck treatment and a graduated exercise program for return-to-function or return-to-sport. Diagnosis and progress is tracked through a series of scientifically validated standardized tests including the Impact Concussion Test, Sway Balance Test, and King-Devick Test to ensure objectivity. Using multiple tests allows for greater detail into a patient's history and presenting symptoms and allows us to provide better and more personalized care.