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Wisconsin Physical Therapy Association Fall Conference – Concussion Update

On Oct. 23-24, 2014, many physical therapists across the state of Wisconsin attended the physical therapy fall conference held in Madison, WI. It was a great conference where classes were offered in a variety of content including ACL injuries, orthopedic injuries in pediatric patients, hip arthroscopy, lumbar spine treatment, administrative classes, concussions, etc.

Bucky Badger visited our conference as we “Jumped Around” during our lunch break.

All the classes that I attended were very good including the concussion course that was presented. In this class we reviewed and learned new techniques in treatment for post-concussion symptoms. Concussions are becoming more frequently diagnosed and it is important for the athletes to know that there are other symptoms that can occur with a concussion that a physical therapist can treat.

One of the symptoms that commonly occurs following a concussion is a headache. If the headache does not gradually decrease in the first week following a concussion, as expected, a physical therapist should evaluate the neck for a cervical origin of the headache. If the neck is a source of head pain, a physical therapist can treat the neck to reduce headache symptoms.

Other common symptoms after concussion that can be treated if they do not naturally resolve is balance and dizziness symptoms. Balance is often affected and can be treated in physical therapy with appropriate balance and coordination exercises as well as exercises that incorporate eye movements. Dizziness can be a component of a vestibular problem called BPPV (benign paroxysmal positional vertigo). Physical therapists can assess the cause of the dizziness and treat BPPV with appropriate manual positioning techniques that can resolve these symptoms rather quickly.

Exercise is also a key factor in returning a person with a concussion back to normal function. An athlete can be treated at their school if there is an athletic trainer present to monitor the appropriate exercise progression. In the clinic, exercise is used to progress athletes back to their sport in a graded progression as well as to help decrease symptoms in anyone that has concussion symptoms that last longer than expected. A physical therapist can give you specific guidelines on appropriate exercise intensity.

If you or someone you know is experiencing concussion symptoms that have not resolved as expected, an evaluation with a physical therapist is appropriate to address and treat these issues.


– Shari

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