Today’s advanced concussion care begins with a thorough evaluation that leads to an individualized treatment plan to address a patient’s specific symptoms and limitations. From there, says Jessica Gravel, PT, DPT, concussion coordinator at the Dr. Robert C. Cantu Concussion Center, patients benefit from experienced rehabilitation staff who have access to the latest technology.
"Patients may benefit from physical and occupational therapists and speech/language pathology to address a variety of deficits and limitations,” says Ms. Gravel. “Our physical therapy treatments focus on performing specific manual therapy techniques, exercises and stretches to address headache, dizziness and muscle tightness and weakness.”
Occupational therapists provide visual rehabilitation for patients complaining of visual symptoms — double-vision, light sensitivity and difficulty reading. Speech/language pathologists provide cognitive therapy to address memory/attention, critical thinking/decision-making and multi-tasking problems.
“Some patients use our specialized equipment, including the Dynavision, MyoWorx and Vasper,” Ms. Gravel notes. “The Dynavision is useful for those suffering from visual disturbances, MyoWorx is an electrical stimulation device that addresses muscle spasms, and the Vasper allows patients to exercise without triggering symptoms. No other concussion center in the U.S. has this combination of technology.”
New technology accelerates healing
Dynavision D2TM is an interactive light board that can address a variety of visual, physical and cognitive skills. Initially used to improve reaction time in athletes, the Dynavision D2 has been adopted by the medical community and has much to offer those with neurological diagnoses, including concussion. “We use the Dynavision to address decreased visual processing speed and reaction time, stimulate peripheral and spatial awareness, and to improve hand-eye coordination,” says Nicole Finch, MS, OTR/L, occupational therapist.
Professional sports teams are using the Vasper, and NASA is experimenting with it. Now patients at the Dr. Robert C. Cantu Concussion Center have the ability to exercise while triggering fewer symptoms.
“Vasper blends the two approaches of cold therapy and blood flow restriction,” says Josh Avery, PT, DPT, physical therapist. “Patients exercise on an elliptical where their core and limbs are cooled throughout. This method reduces the heart’s response to exercise and helps control concussion symptoms during exercise on the Vasper.
“The arm and leg cuffs are pressurized, restricting blood flow and pooling lactic acid in the extremities, mimicking the effects of intense exercise at reduced workloads. The body is flooded with good hormones, such as human growth hormone, while cortisol, the stress hormone, is decreased. This promotes healing and recovery, as well as improved sleep for patients while controlling and even reducing their symptoms.”
The Dr. Robert C. Cantu Concussion Center is located at the Emerson Health Center, 310 Baker Avenue in Concord, Mass. For more information please call 978-287-8250 or visit emersonhospital.org/concussion.