Vestibular Physical Therapy: Treating the Cause of Prolonged Concussion Symptoms

by Athletico | 8 Comments

It seems you cannot turn on the TV lately without hearing something about another professional athlete who is suffering from the effects of a concussion. A concussion is a serious brain injury and is very difficult to assess and treat as MRIs and CT scans are almost always normal. If not treated properly, these concussions can cause both short- and long-term problems. One treatment that is getting more and more attention is the use of vestibular physical therapy for individuals who have been concussed.

When someone first sustains a concussion, the initial treatment is rest. At that time they should be managed by their physician. Studies show that 80 percent of those who suffer a concussion have their symptoms go away completely within the first three weeks. Unfortunately, some people have symptoms that last even longer. Common symptoms include headaches, blurry vision, nausea, dizziness, noise and light sensitivity, balance difficulties, difficulty with concentrating, difficulty remembering, difficulty sleeping, and/or emotional symptoms. Oftentimes a concussed person will complain of difficulty with driving, difficulty with reading a computer, difficulty reading books, and difficulty changing gaze focus. One of the most common complaints that vestibular therapists hear is that they just feel “off” or “foggy.”

Prolonged Symptoms: After Three Weeks
Vestibular Therapy to Treat Concussion SymptomsWhen someone continues to have any of these symptoms, he or she should follow-up with their physician. Some physicians may recommend beginning physical therapy as early as one week post-concussion depending on the symptoms, while others wait until the three-week mark to see if symptoms subside on their own. Vestibular physical therapy can help with balance issues, motion sensitivity, dizziness, difficulty with reading and changing gaze focus.

Before beginning a vestibular physical therapy program, the concussed individual will undergo a vestibular evaluation to test balance in a variety of ways. An example of a test is assessing eye movements and the ability of the eyes to track objects when the head is moving. It is important to note that every concussion patient presents a different combination of symptoms. The vestibular therapist will then create an individual program for getting the patient back to all of their previous activities or sports.

What to do if you feel you have prolonged concussion symptoms?
When a concussed patient continues to have prolonged symptoms, it may be overstimulating their vestibular system and doing more harm than good. If you or someone you know continues to have concussion symptoms after three weeks (for some individuals, the concussion may have occurred as long as one to two years ago with symptoms still being experienced), it is important to get assessed by a medical professional and find out if vestibular physical therapy may help you on the road to recovery.

Athletico has vestibular therapists trained in concussion management throughout many of our clinics. For more information on Vestibular Rehabilitation and Concussion Management, request an appointment today!

Click to Request an Appointment Today

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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8 Comments

  1. Carol Wichers

    Hi I live in minneapolis, do you have any contacts of someone who could help me, i am 1 year post concussion and while a lot better, I could really use some guidance around starting to work out and get back in shape with still limited energy…thanks, Carol

  2. Cyierria

    I sustained a concussion about 2 months ago, didn’t see a doctor about it until 2 weeks ago. I start therapy today but am not sure what to expect. I am trying to lose weight so I run like a mile a day but my doctor isn’t sure that’s good…. Any thoughts as to how to continue working out without having to run like that?

  3. Gloria Hernandez

    I experienced a fall in which I suffered a concussion. I never lost conscious. However, when EMS had to transport me to the hospital they had to sit me up to carry me down some steps. I got so dizzy that I almost threw up. ER doctor ran CT scans no swelling of the brain and no broken hip, just a hairline fracture of my tailbone. It is going on 8 weeks since this happened. I am experiencing severe headaches and mild dizziness. I lose my balance easily. I am far from any of the locations for your expert help and treatment. Is there anyone in the San Antonio area that you could recommend for vestibular balance treatment? This would be so much appreciated. I am 68 (a very young 68 I might add). This has caused me to place my exercising and normal activities on hold. Thank you in advance if you can assist.

    Sincerely,
    Gloria Hernandez

  4. Debra Ochsner

    My daughter is almost one year post cincussion from a volleyball spike to the frontal lobe which left her with short term memory loss, daily headaches from a levelnto to a lebel 8 every day despite medications. Her headaches spike upon any physical activity, plus she suffers dizziness, nausea and balance issues with the ellipitical trainer. Simple exercise exercise causes her headache to spike. She was an incredible athelete and now cant run o even attd5mptt to condition , which was something she thrived on before. It has been 10 mos, a year this April. Neurologist suggested vestibular therapy and referred her toacquired traumatic brain injury specialist at Duke. Any recommendations for an outstanding vestibula5 specialist in the Raleigh NC area wd be so appreciated. Thank you.

  5. Sheila

    Is it common for vestibular symptoms to still be present four years after concussion event? I did undergo cognitive training and vestibular therapy following concussion, but at about the one year mark, therapy was discontinued. I was told this is my “new normal”.

  6. Carol Dougherty

    I suffered a concussion over 30 years ago. I still suffer today from vertigo and crippling migraines. I recently saw a physiotherapist who was very well versed in vestibular therapy. My body is completely out of alignment much to my surprise. I have begun exercises in the hope this will help. Hopefully this will give some relief!

  7. linda

    Can I fully recover after a fall about 2 1/2 years ago where I fell and hit above/side right eye area. I have been struggling on a daily basis with balance issues, extreme eye sensitivity and not processing things through my eye correctly. I get nausea, vertigo when I move eyes at time with some dizziness. I feel like I am going to fall over and often need to hold on to things such as shopping carts in stores and open, busy spaces are totally overwhelming. My life has gotten so restricted because it is hard to go places and do things as environments are too stimulating. I work but sometimes it is difficult to get through the day and have missed work at times. I have a hard time feeling grounded and how my eyes perceive where I am in space. I need help. I break down crying and people don’t understand and get frustrated with me. Headaches and aching around right occipital area at times. At times a spinny, whirly sensation. Please give me some direction. I have been to many specialists and am still in this situation with daily symptoms. I am a 53 year old female

  8. Kathy Temple

    Wish this was still active. I had two concussions less than 6 months apart in 2013. In 2014 the psychologist I was seeing told me there wasn’t anything else she could do for me because I wasn’t accepting that this was who I was now. Told me to just do it – get on with my life. I was tested after each concussion & it showed a loss of cognitive thinking ability as well as decreased motor functions with my right hand. Four years since the first one & it continues to be more & more difficult to function. How do you continue when you can’t do so many of the things that used to come easy?..,

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