CORNER BROOK Most athletes can be back on the playing field within a couple of weeks from sustaining a concussion without ill effects, but there is a small percentage of those who have persisting symptoms that put them on a long road to recovery.
Jennifer Veitch, a local physiotherapist, has received training in the latest post-concussion management techniques.
She received her training through Fowler Kennedy Sports Medicine Clinic in London, Ont. and uses their post-concussion management guidelines for her clients at her business, Veitch Physiotherapy and Massage in Corner Brook.
In the majority of cases, the signs and symptoms of concussions are shortlived with about 80-90 per cent being resolved within a 7-10-day window, but when symptoms persist beyond the expected recovery period the person is considered to be suffering from post-concussion syndrome.
She said once a person identifies they do in fact have a concussion, which is the most important thing, taking a break from the particular activity and getting rest is key, but once the symptoms continue to keep somebody on the shelf, he or she needs to be following a program that allows for a gradual and safe increase in activity levels and eventually return to normal functioning.
“Rest is fine at the beginning and that’s absolutely the correct thing to do, but once you get past this initial stage you can’t just not go back to life,” she said. “And how do you get back to normal functioning?”
Veitch said the treatment plan that will put people back to recovery consists of manual therapy (hands on) techniques to restore range of motion and reduce pain, different excercises and techniques for retraining balance issues, and dealing with visual issues.
Another part of the rehabiliation process that she feels is huge for athletes or people who work in a physically demanding job is the gradual return to cardiovascular activity.
Getting people back on their feet as swiftly as possible while taking a cautious and gradual approach is the mindset.
“With this stuff, we don’t push into symptoms,” she said.
“As soon as you start to get symptoms, whether that’s a headache or spots in your vision, whatever it is you work below that threshold.”
Veitch believes emerging research has given her reason for hope that more people will get back to work quicker and healthier with the latest advances.
She just cautions it should be done under the guidance of somebody with expertise in the field and in conjunction with a family physician or other medical personnel.