Concussion Therapy – FAQ and First Appointment

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December 11, 2020
Concussion Therapy – FAQ and First Appointment

A concussion is a functional injury to the brain. It occurs when a traumatic force occurs to the head and within the skull. It does not require a direct blow to the head and can even be from a quick acceleration and deceleration. This damage also affects nerve cells within the brain. There are issues after concussion including abnormal metabolism and lower levels of energy. This issue frequently causes issues symptoms such as fatigue, dizziness, visual problems, and/or sensitivity to light and sound.


Jared Burch is a Physical Therapist and the Clinical Director of our Princeton location. We sat down with him and asked some questions about concussion therapy and what to expect at your first appointment.

I am a vestibular and concussion certified therapist. I started my career working with trauma, brain injury, and stroke and transitioned to outpatient Physical Therapy.  I enjoy treating both orthopedic conditions and using my specialization to help those with dizziness and post concussive symptoms. These conditions can be very debilitating, and I feel grateful to have the ability to help this special group return to full function and everyday living again without disability.”

Jared wants to remind you, do not be alarmed at your symptoms, no matter how long. You are not alone! The most frequent symptoms after concussion include headaches, fatigue, feeling slowed down, drowsiness, difficulty concentrating, feeling mentally foggy, and dizziness (Lovell, 2010). Oftentimes problems with vision persist following a concussion as well. Physical Therapy can be used to work on these issues through cardiovascular conditioning, eye exercises, and/or brain exercises.

What should I expect at my first appointment? 

A licensed Physical Therapist such as myself, will take your information, discuss your symptoms, and perform physical and/or cognitive testing. There are many types of tests to identify how your eyes move (oculomotor testing), how you respond to slow/quick head movements, and symptoms with changes in body position. You may also be required to do balance testing and aerobic tests to increase your heart rate and assess your time to onset of symptoms.


What should I bring to my first appointment and how should I dress?

Please dress comfortably. If you are coming directly from work try to bring sneakers in case balance or aerobic testing is required.


Will I have to fill out paperwork?

Yes! In order to come to an accurate Physical Therapy diagnosis, it is important to have a thorough understanding of your medical history. You also must sign papers related to privacy laws and insurance benefits (if you are using insurance). These papers are for your benefit and understanding.


How long will the appointment last? 

 Initial evaluations for post concussive symptoms typically last 45 minutes


Will PT exercises hurt?

During your appointment to treat concussion related issues, you should expect to have a slight increase in your symptoms. It is important to try to specify the exact problem in order to have a thorough and effective treatment program. Think of it like doing bicep curls to get big and strong arm muscles. Initially, your arms will be sore and eventually you will get stronger and have reduced soreness.


Will I need to schedule follow up appointments?

 Yes. Post concussive symptoms vary in severity and time. Typically I will recommend up to 3 visits per week to start a plan of care and taper down in frequency as symptoms are reduced and you are able to self-manage at home.


Will I be given exercises to do at home? 

Nearly all patients will go home with a program of some kind to start with. This may include eye exercises, activities to increase your heart rate through movement, and/or balance exercises.


Jared Burch, PT, DPT, AIB-VAM Read Jared’s bio here.

More questions about PT and what to expect?  Email Jared directly at mailto:[email protected]