Early Initiation of Vestibular Therapy Following Sports-Related Concussions: A Retrospective Cohort Study - The Brain Injury Alliance of New Jersey

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Early Initiation of Vestibular Therapy Following Sports-Related Concussions: A Retrospective Cohort Study

Summarized by Arielle Berkowitz, DO
November 2023

When a player experiences a bump to the head during a sports game or practice, he/she may begin to experience headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, trouble concentrating, or a brief loss of consciousness known as a Sports Related Concussion (SRC). These symptoms are often troubling and may make it difficult to immediately return to school, work, and/or sports. SRC can occur at any age and at any level of athletic training.

Recovery after a SRC is different for each individual. Athletes who are female, who have had prior concussions, learning disabilities, and/or psychiatric illness may have more trouble returning to their normal daily activities. During this tough time, it is important to follow with experts who can help with the recovery process and provide education, guidance, and encouragement.

In the past, it was recommended that athletes who have sustained a SRC completely rest their minds and body- avoiding television, phones, computers, and school-work- so that their brains could fully heal. More recent guidelines advise light activity/work during this recovery period. In most states, athletes are required to progress through a daily exercise schedule with a trained professional for one whole week. During this time, the athlete must perform exercises with increasing intensity with close monitoring of symptoms.

Vestibular therapy is a therapy that is often offered to patients who continue to experience symptoms such as dizziness and balance issues weeks after their injury. With vestibular therapy, patients work closely with physical therapists to improve things such as balance and vision. In a recent article, “Early Initiation of Vestibular Therapy Following Sport-Related Concussions: A Retrospective Cohort Study,” by Ferry et al., the authors wanted to determine whether or not starting vestibular therapy shortly after injury would result in a faster recovery. In this study, the researchers reviewed the medical charts of patients ages 12-25 years who had a SRC between January 2014-December 2019, were seen in the Sports Medicine Concussion Clinic at Duke University and were referred to PT for vestibular therapy.

Results from this study suggested that waiting to start vestibular therapy could increase the time to recovery and return to sport. In other words, starting vestibular therapy early after injury could result in a quicker recovery. After SRC, it is important to seek appropriate care early. Although we still need more details regarding exactly how long a person should receive vestibular therapy, how frequently he/she should go for visits, and when to begin the therapy, it is noted that, overall, it is extremely helpful without any detrimental effects.

For more information view the article https://doi.org/10.7759/cureus.39764