What is it?
- A concussion is a form of brain injury resulting from a blow to the head, face or jaw that adversely affects the normal function of the brain.
- Concussions can cause a wide array of symptoms and the time course for recovery can vary widely from person to person. This makes it difficult to employ a “cookie-cutter” approach to concussion rehabilitation and return to participation timelines.
- Objective pre-participation testing (“Baseline testing”) can be used to track an athlete’s recovery and serve as a tangible measurement for return-to-play.
- Baseline testing is a vital component to the proper management and rehabilitation of concussive injuries.
Impact Baseline Testing (Neurocognitive Testing)
- Computer based neurocognitive testing protocols are widely used in concussion management.
- There is evidence to show that a “symptom free” person/athlete will still demonstrate cognitive deficits during computer based testing, making return to play decisions even more difficult.
- Computer based neurocognitive testing assesses: memory, reaction time, attention span and problem solving.
- This is just one piece of the overall concussion management strategy.
- Concussions often affect balance and visual function, and knowing baseline abilities in these two functions can also help with post-injury assessment and management, as well as increasing confidence in return to play decisions.
- Components of concussion rehabilitation include
- Patient specific rest strategies and home instruction
- Academic/employment advice
- Manual therapy for secondary impairments (WAD, neck pain, muscle soreness)
- Screening and referral for vision therapy
- Balance, coordination and vestibular-based rehab.
- Physical exertion testing and exercise plans for return to sport.
Early post-injury assessment is important to developing and implementing a patient specific management plan in order to resolve concussion symptoms and foster a return to normal brain function and return to sport and normal daily activities.