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Cervical spine, vestibular therapy help treat post-concussion symptoms: study


November 3, 2014
By Mari-Len De

Nov. 3, 2014 – A recent study from the University of Calgary shows a combination of cervical and vestibular therapy can facilitate quicker recovery and return to play following a sport-related concussion among youth and young adults.

The study, published in the British Journal of Sports Medicine last spring, was headed by Kathryn Schneider of the university’s Faculty of Kinesiology, Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre.

This study was a randomised controlled trial. Consecutive patients with persistent symptoms of dizziness, neck pain and/or headaches following a sport-related concussion (12 to 30 years old, 18 male and 13 female) were randomised to the control or intervention group. Both groups received weekly sessions with a physiotherapist for eight weeks or until the time of medical clearance. Both groups received postural education, range of motion exercises and cognitive and physical rest until asymptomatic followed by a protocol of graded exertion. The intervention group also received cervical spine and vestibular rehabilitation. The primary outcome of interest was medical clearance to return to sport, which was evaluated by a study sport medicine physician who was blinded to the treatment group.

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The result revealed 73 per cent of the participants in the treatment group were medically cleared within eight weeks of initial treatment, compared to only seven per cent in the control group. Using an intention to treat analysis, individuals in the treatment group were nearly four times times more likely to be medically cleared by eight weeks.

In an article posted on UToday, an online news service published by the University of Calgary, Schneider said she was “somewhat surprised” at the compelling results of the study.

“We’ve believed that treatment of the cervical spine and vestibular systems seem to help some people, but this study suggests that this approach may be of great benefit for those suffering from prolonged post-concussion symptoms including dizziness, neck pain and/or headaches,” said Schneider, who is also an experienced clinical physiotherapist.

Concussion is a common injury in sport. Most people recover in seven to ten days but some have persistent symptoms. The objective of this study was to determine if a combination of vestibular rehabilitation and cervical spine therapy decreased the time until medical clearance in individuals with prolonged post-concussion symptoms.


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