with Heather Whiting, PT, DPT, CSCS, CFMT
Why have concussions been in the news lately?
According to a CBS news article this week about a new Nebraska research center for concussions, over 300,000 sports-related concussions are reported each year in the United States. There have been several high profile suicides in the recent years with the fingers being pointed at excessive head traumas affecting the function of the brain. Many former NFL players are currently in litigation with the league regarding their lack of protection from serious head trauma. Some states, like Maryland, are trying to stop concussions at a young age by putting in place new guidelines for concussion prevention and treatment. The medical community and sports world are becoming more active by bringing more awareness to the general population in hopes of curtailing future serious traumas.
How would a Functional Manual Therapist (FMT) evaluate me after a concussion?
Every evaluation starts with subjective information to find out your main complaints and how the injury occurred. As part of our objective intake we perform a neurological scan that includes looking at your cranial nerve function, reflexes, vestibular system, neural tension, strength and range of motion to give a few examples. From this evaluation, we formulate the best plan of care for your case. All concussions are different and need a treatment best suited for the specific dysfunctions you are presenting with.
How can a FMT help my symptoms?
Headaches can be multifactorial. Often times when there is a head injury the neck can also be implicated. Headaches caused from cervical dysfunction can often be mistaken as the brain damage caused by the head injury. A skilled FMT will be able to evaluate and treat any cervical misalignment and tissue tension causing the headache. Direct hits to the skull can also cause compression of the cranial bone joints known as sutures. We can mobilize the different bones in the skull to decrease the pressure on the underlying tissues which improves blood flow to that area and can promote healing. Many times the vestibular system is also affected in the brain trauma. This can affect a person’s balance, visual tracking and cause headaches. As part of the treatment in the clinic, you will also be given appropriate exercises to help retrain your vestibular system. The exercises will progress as they become easier for you to perform. Head injuries can often be very complex. Your treatment plan should be comprehensive in order to address the different causative factors.