In three short years, the Dr. Robert C. Cantu Concussion Center has grown steadily: during the first year beginning in 2015, its physicians and nurse practitioners saw 1,500 patients — a number that swelled to 4,500 during year three. Dr. Cantu is quick to note that this is due to the arrival of Barry Levin, MD, neurologist; Herbert Gilmore, MD, pediatric neurologist; Alexandra Jackson, PsyD, and Neal McGrath, PhD, neuropsychologists; and additional nurse practitioners.
“When you include all our therapists who specialize in concussion, the true number is exponentially higher,” Dr. Cantu notes. “I don’t know of any other concussion center that has the number of cognitive therapists that we have. In terms of diagnosis, testing and treatment, we have all the options an individual might need.”
Thanks to a $1,025,000 grant from Oak Foundation, concussion center staff are conducting two pilot studies using Vasper, a recumbent bike with cuffs that restrict blood flow to the arms and legs while also providing cooling. “This builds up lactic acid, which causes increased secretion of growth hormone,” Dr. Cantu explains.
“Our research indicates that patients with post-concussion syndrome [PCS] who receive Vasper therapy maintain symptom improvement better than those using a regular recumbent bike.” Concussion center staff also published a pilot study in Health (April 2018) that suggests the addition of electrical stimulation to regular cervicogenic physical therapy benefits those with PCS.
Dr. Cantu is optimistic about the ongoing advances in understanding concussion and how to treat it. “Some important concepts have emerged,” he says. “Ten years ago, we treated concussions with cognitive or relative rest or reduced activity. Today we know that the patient should be as active as they can be without making symptoms worse.”