At Central Vermont Medical Center, our team of physical therapists (PT), occupational therapists, and speech language pathologists (SLP) offer treatment for acute and persistent concussion symptoms.
At CVMC Rehabilitation Therapy we evaluate and treat both acute concussion and post-concussion syndrome.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is common in children and adults and needs to be evaluated and followed by a licensed health care provider. Health care professionals often refer to concussions as mild brain injuries because they are usually not life threatening although their effects can be very serious.
It is often difficult to determine when it is safe for someone with a concussion to return to regular activity.
Additionally, few people realize that physical therapists (PT) and speech language pathologists (SLP) offer treatment for persistent concussion symptoms and facilitate patients’ return to normal activities.
Guidelines to determine when patients should be referred to physical and/or speech language pathologists:
- concussion symptoms that last over 7 days (both PT and SLP)
- cognitive difficulty - a demonstrated loss of: memory, attention and concentration; comprehension of verbal or written language; planning and organization skills; perception, initiation and other cognitive abilities (SLP)
- questionable ability to manage a cognitively demanding job (SLP)
- questionable ability to resume self-care, care of others, house-hold management, completion of usual daily tasks requiring multi-tasking (SLP)
What does Occupational Therapy (OT) do to treat persistent concussion symptoms?
Occupational Therapists (OT) focus on the many elements needed for completion of daily routines and participation in functional and meaningful tasks and the difficulties that may arise after concussion.
This can include visual deficits (difficulty focusing, eye fatigue with reading), trouble managing, organizing, and completing tasks related to work, childcare, cooking, etc.
OT treatment involves looking at complex lives along with things that we are struggling with to remediate deficits while developing compensatory strategies for improved activity participation and task performance while working towards recovery.
What does Physical Therapy (PT) do to treat persistent concussion symptoms?
Physical Therapists (PT) will evaluate the patient’s autonomic response to exercise.
Most often, persistent concussion symptoms result from abnormal autonomic responses to physical exertion.
A physical therapist will monitor the patient’s vital signs and symptoms while he/she completes a graded exercise stress test. This can help gauge the patient’s recovery stage.
Balance testing will also be assessed using the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) – the standard in concussion rehab.
The patient completes a graded exercise program where intensity and duration are increased to assess his/her physiological tolerance - until the final phase when tolerating normal activity without severe symptoms or abnormal physiological response is reached.
How does Speech Therapy treat a patient’s persistent concussion symptoms?
Speech Language Pathologists (SLP) provide cognitive rehabilitation to enhance a person’s capacity to process and interpret information as well as to improve their ability to fully communicate.
- Using norm referenced measures, SLPs assess and treat cognitive-communication disorders including all communication difficulties affected by the disruption of cognition (as previously defined).
- Areas of function affected by cognitive impairments include social interaction, daily activities, academic/vocational performance and learning.
Treatment should result in improved or compensated speech, improved oral and written language and improved cognitive- communication.
Treatment may be restorative or compensatory and includes exercise, education, counseling and coaching.
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