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August 11, 2014

Physiotherapy Speeds Up Concussion Recovery

A new study from the University of Calgary finds that physiotherapy is beneficial to those suffering from lingering concussion symptoms.

The study, conducted by Dr. Kathryn Schneider of the University’s Sport Injury Prevention Center, focused on experimental treatment of the inner ear and the neck vertebrae in concussed athletes.

Schneider says most individuals recover from a concussion within seven to 10 days, but the new treatment could help those with prolonged symptoms and suffering.

In total, thirty-one athletes suffering from sports-related head injuries were examined by Dr. Schneider and her team. The patients were split into two groups. In one group, patients were treated with traditional methods of concussion rehabilitation. In the other group, patients received weekly treatment including a combination of inner ear rehabilitation and neck vertebrae physiotherapy.

Manual therapy was used on the spine “in the event there were muscles that needed treatment, or some joints that were felt to be not moving as well as they could be,” explained Schneider. Work on the inner ear, known as “vestibular” therapy, was focused on improving balance.

The results in favour of the physio treatment were impressive.

Those who received treatment recovered significantly faster than those who were treated with more traditional methods of rest and gradual re-entry to activity. The 15 athletes who received experimental treatment were four times more likely to return to sport sooner than those who were treated with traditional methods. Recovery time was significantly reduced with 73% of participants medically cleared within eight weeks, compared with just 7% of the traditional group.

Dr. Schneider and her team are excited with the results. But the work doesn’t end here. Schneider says further study is needed to determine which patients might respond best to the treatment, and to optimize the timing and frequency of therapy.

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