Could controlled exercise help concussions?

Posted at 7:29 AM, Dec 16, 2015

Doctors say in the past decade, there has been a surge in interest in concussions, especially those related to sports.

Recently, specialists at the University at Buffalo's Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine have been looking into how to better treat the head injury.

"There's really no good treatment right now for concussions," said Dr. John Leddy, the medical director of the UB Concussion Management Clinic and physical with UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine.

Leddy, who also works as a clinical professor in the Department of Orthopaedics in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, explained that while there has been a lot of research in concussion prevention and what to do when someone initially gets a concussion, but not as much research regarding treatment of the head injury.

"It's important to rest right after a concussion. That we know," explained Dr. Leddy. "What we don't know is how much rest is sufficient, and how much you should introduce of activity."

In the study, Leddy and researchers give patients controlled, light exercises. This occurs after an initial examination.

The study is looking at middle and high schoolers with concussions due to a sports injury.

Leddy said the study came about due to previous research, including at the University at Buffalo, that shows light, controlled exercise prescribed by a doctor helps patients with delayed concussions, or concussions that last longer than the typical few weeks. Researchers hope this new study speeds up recovery or prevents delayed concussions.

Doctors tend to give patients one of two types of exercises -- either walking or stretching.

Leddy emphasized that after any concussion, rest remains extremely important. Anybody with a concussion should not start exercise or activity until seeing a doctor.

"It has to be prescribed for each individual, because every individual's concussion is different, and everybody's tolerance to exercise is different," he explained.

Sixteen-year-old Julia Whipple is one of the dozen patients who have entered the study.

"I chose to kick it, and I just went boom," recalled the Hamburg High School soccer player, of when she sustained a concussion. "I couldn't open my eyes. I was just staring -- I didn't know what to do."

Whipple said that she was told to walk 20 minutes a day on a treadmill at home, and checked in with Leddy weekly at UBMD Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine. At first, she "couldn't focus on certain things, and definitely walking -- it was off."

However, within a week, Whipple said she noticed a difference. "Through the week, each time, it just kept easing out."

Parents who have a child with a concussion recently and would like to be evaluated for the study should call 716-829-5499 during business hours.




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