Concussion Screenings and Post-Concussion Rehab
Concussion Awareness/ History:
In 2008 North Carolina suffered two tremendous blows when two of its high school athletes died from concussion related injury. While there have been gains in parental and sports team concussion education and assessment brought upon by the NC 2011 Gfeller-Waller Concussion legislation, New Hanover County remains far behind other recognized metropolitan areas in North Carolina regarding concussion management. In 2008, Medical Professionals in the Raleigh metropolitan area recognized the frequency of concussion (1,318 youth aged 0-17 were seen for concussion/ closed head injury in the Wake County area hospitals in 2008 alone), and thus established the Wake Med Concussion Clinic in order to best address this area of specialty care. Additionally, all athletes in Charlotte Mecklenburg County receive (at minimal) computerized neuro-cognitive screening in to establish pre-season baselines.
Bodies in Balance Physical Therapy recognized a need in increased concussion assessment, treatment and rehab for New Hanover County athletes and thus has become engaged in the community’s recent interest and need for its child athletes to have improved return to play decisions. We offer specialized equipment and trained therapists in the area of concussion who (with the medical team) provide clear, evidence-based, objective methods in assessing and rehabilitating its children who are playing sports and suffer traumatic brain injury.
Our mission is to improve the safety of the athletes in our community with regards to concussion and its sequelae. Through education of our athletes, their families, and community healthcare providers Bodies in Balance aims to promote a safer environment for play. We provide objective measurements of each athlete’s function to assist with return to play decision-making and will serve as a resource for the athletic and medical community.
Team Centered Approach:
Team Centered approach with our vision including:Athletic Director/ Coach/ ATC/ Physician/ Concussion Specialists/ student athlete and parents.
Pre-Season Baseline Screening:
Bodies in Balance is the only clinic in the Wilmington area to utilize the NeuroCom® Smart Balance System to obtain objective preseason baseline data. These measurements are used in comparison if an athlete becomes concussed during the season. We stress the importance of individualized baseline measurements and encourage athletes to perform this test when possible. Our staff is happy to work with teams or school programs to facilitate baseline testing. When baseline data is not available, we utilize established, valid, normative data to assess the impact of concussion on the athlete’s balance system and to monitor progress throughout recovery.
Post-Concussion Management and Rehabilitation:
When a concussion is diagnosed or suspected, our team of physical therapists will perform a comprehensive evaluation to assess the effects of the concussion on the athlete’s visual, vestibular, and balance systems. We emphasize family involvement and education regarding the pathophysiology of concussion as a critical step in the rehabilitation process. After the evaluation, we develop an individualized treatment plan focused on the athlete’s areas of deficit and keeping in mind his/her individualized goals. Click here for more information about the tests used to evaluate post concussion.
Sensory Organization Test:
Balance has been identified as one of the three assessment pillars when making return-to-play decisions for athletes following a head injury. Bodies in Balance Physical Therapy has a history of providing objective and reliable balance assessments and providing proper management of patients with balance-related impairments. Expanding on our use of the Sensory Organization Test on the NeuroCom® Smart Balance, we are now able to provide the community with baseline assessments of athletes as well as objective post-injury measurements to assist with critical decision-making. Sensory Organization Test is a six-condition test utilizing the NeuroCom® Smart Balance System that objectively measures the degree of an athlete’s postural sway when exposed to varied sensory information. Due to a decrease in neural processing speed following head injury, a concussed athlete may demonstrate an increased postural sway that can be detected during the Sensory Organization test. An athlete’s performance on this test compared to known age-matched normative data is useful in determining when to return to high-risk competition.
Individual Baseline Measures:
In addition to assessing athletes after head injury, Bodies in Balance Physical Therapy is the first clinic in the Wilmington, NC area to offer the community the opportunity to establish individualized baseline data. Comparison of an athlete’s pre-season measures to his/her performance post-injury is the most sensitive means of detecting deficits due to concussion. Local athletes are welcome to call the clinic to set-up an appointment for baseline screening. Each visit will consist of a symptom inventory as well as the six-condition Sensory Organization Test. Record of each athlete’s performance will maintained and can be used for comparison in case a concussion in incurred throughout the sport season.
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