How PT Can Help Your Recover After a Concussion


Professional athletes get a lot of attention. Concussions were thought to cause the brain

disease "chronic traumatic encephalitis," or "CTE" common in athletes that get concussions.

Now it's looking like CTE is caused by all the small hits that don't cause concussions. In some athletes the small hits may cause CTE. Most concussions don't actually happen to athletes. More happen on playground equipment, and from bicycle accidents.

Concussions go away in 10 days for most people. It's likely post-concussion syndrome if symptoms don't clear up during this time frame. Post-concussion syndrome is basically concussion symptoms that last longer than 10 days. These symptoms can last from weeks, to months, or even longer than a year.

At Performance PT we are seeing post-concussion syndrome mainly in high school athletes and people that hit their heads in car accidents.

How Can PT Help After a Concussion?

A concussion is a temporary disruption of your working brain. In post concussion syndrome it just takes longer for the symptoms to go away.

This usually includes eye problems. You may have trouble focusing. The problem is worse when you change from looking at something far away, then looking up close. Like when you are taking notes off the board during a class.

With post-concussion syndrome you may have difficulty with your eyes focusing on:

  1. Stationary objects while moving - when you move your head but not your eyes.

  2. A moving object when stationary - such as when you move your eyes but not your head.

  3. Moving objects when moving, such as driving a car.

Eye Post-Concussion Symptoms Include Headaches, Nausea, and Dizziness

In PT we progress you through exercises to restore eye coordination to clear up these symptoms.

Concussion Eye Coordination Tests

We use the "Vestibular Ocular-Motor Screening" exam with a series of standard tests. This includes:

  • Testing your ability to focus your eyes from near to far

  • Testing eye movement up and down and side to side

  • Testing eye coordination while the head is moving

  • Finally, testing eye coordination while both you and your head are moving

Concussion Treatment

We work with you on exercises to restore eye coordination. For your eyes to work correctly, you inner ear, eye muscles, and different parts of your brain have to work together.

Your exercises slowly challenge how everything works together to improve your eye coordination.

As eye coordination improves, your headaches, nausea, and dizziness will gradually clear up.

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Christopher DiPasquale, PhD, PT, OCS, SCS, CHT is a physical therapist at Performance Physical Therapy & Sports Medicine, with offices in Hebron and Colchester, Connecticut. He is board certified by the American Board of Physical Therapy Specialties in Orthopedic Physical Therapy and Sports Physical Therapy and a Certified Hand Therapist by the Hand Therapy Certification Committee. Visit pptsm.com for more information.


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