University of Calgary

University of Calgary

July 30, 2014 12:00 ET

Back in the game faster

New Faculty of Kinesiology physiotherapy concussion treatment decreases time for return to sport

CALGARY, ALBERTA--(Marketwired - July 30, 2014) - New research by Kathryn Schneider, PhD, a researcher with the Faculty of Kinesiology's Sport Injury Prevention Research Centre, has shown that physiotherapy concussion treatment that combines treatment of the cervical spine (the vertebrae in your neck) and vestibular system (the inner ear) is four times more likely to lead to an athlete's medical clearance for return to sport by eight weeks.

While most individuals recover from a concussion within seven to 10 days, a smaller percentage report prolonged symptoms. Schneider's study set out to determine if a new approach that included cervical spine and vestibular physiotherapy could decrease the time until medical clearance is given for those with prolonged post-concussion symptoms.

Schneider's research, published in the online May 22 edition of the British Journal of Sport Medicine examined a group of 31 patients who took part in either a standard vestibular rehabilitation protocol of rest followed by graded exertion, or a protocol that combined vestibular rehabilitation with cervical spine physiotherapy. Patients in the experimental treatment group were much more likely to be cleared for sport after eight weeks. In fact, 73 per cent (11/15) of the participants were medically cleared within eight weeks commencing treatment, compared with just seven per cent (1/14) of the control groups.

"I was somewhat surprised at how compelling the results were," says Schneider, who is also an experienced clinical physiotherapist and researcher with the Hotchkiss Brain Institute and the Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute. "We've believed that treatment of the cervical spine and vestibular systems seem to help, 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."

The current standard of care for those with post-concussion symptoms is rest followed by graded exertion. Schneider suggests that the results of this study mean that a new "hands-on active physiotherapy" approach might be more effective. "Manual therapy is believed to decrease pain and improve function through a variety of biomechanical and neurophysiological effects, which might explain the encouraging results we noted in this study."

Sport concussion, is part of the University of Calgary's research focus on brain and mental health. This research was funded by Alberta Centre for Child, Family & Community Research and Alberta Children's Hospital Research Institute through community donations.

About the University of Calgary

The University of Calgary is a leading Canadian university located in the nation's most enterprising city. The university has a clear strategic direction to become one of Canada's top five research universities by 2016, where research and innovative teaching go hand in hand, and where we fully engage the communities we both serve and lead. This strategy is called Eyes High, inspired by the university's Gaelic motto, which translates as 'I will lift up my eyes.'

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Contact Information

  • Media Contact
    Donald McSwiney, Director of Communications
    Faculty of Kinesiology