Concussion Recovery: Concussion Symptoms May Improve With Managed Exercise & Physical Therapy by 30Seconds Health

Concussion Recovery: Concussion Symptoms May Improve With Managed Exercise & Physical Therapy

With high school sports starting up soon and NFL training camps in full swing, concussions are certain to ramp up within the mainstream consciousness. And, while talk will often point to conventional wisdom which states that “time and rest” are the best and only options for recovery from concussion, Chicago physical therapist Dr. Marc Gregory Guillen says that studies now suggest managed exercise and movement can hasten recovery.

“It wasn’t very long ago when concussion sufferers were told not to move – to rest, with no exercise, until symptoms improved,” said Dr. Guillen, owner of Free Body Physical Therapy & Wellness. “Today, while rest remains important, it’s become increasingly important to get moving with a careful, managed exercise program that can benefit recovery.”

In 2010, researchers at the University of Buffalo were the first to show that specialized exercise regimens can relieve prolonged concussion symptoms. The study focused on both athletes and non-athletes and was published in the Clinical Journal of Sports Medicine. Researchers based their findings on the hypothesis that “the regulatory system responsible for maintaining cerebral blood flow, which may be dysfunctional in people with a concussion, can be restored to normal by controlled, graded, symptom-free exercise.”

Nearly 3.8 million people suffer from concussions each year in the U.S., according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), many the result of athletic injuries and motor vehicle accidents. From 5 to 10 percent of these people may experience concussion symptoms that last beyond six weeks.

“As health-care professionals, physical therapists are in an ideal position to provide one-on-one care for concussion sufferers, from evaluation through treatment,” said Dr. Guillen. “Concussions are serious medical conditions that can hold you back for days … even weeks. A physical therapist can guide a patient through the healing process, making recovery more proactive and possibly even quicker.”

Individualized care is key, says Dr. Guillen. In fact, according to the American Association of Physical Therapy (APTA), a physical therapist will first provide concussed patients with thorough neurological, orthopedic and cardiovascular evaluations prior to developing an individualized treatment plan that addresses specific needs and goals.

Then, following some rest and recovery, a physical therapist can determine when it’s best to begin treating the problems related to the concussion (dizziness, balance and headaches) while also starting a light, guided exercise program for the restoration of strength and endurance, putting the patient on track to a full recovery.

“A physical therapist will be with you every step of the way as you gradually return to normal life and activities, whether it includes getting back to work, hobbies or competitive sports,” said Dr. Guillen. “This is a guided process that’s different for each concussion sufferer, it takes a medical professional such as a PT to manage and monitor increases in activity levels for the long-term safety of the patient.”

The content on is for informational and entertainment purposes only, and should not be considered medical advice. The information on this site should not be used to diagnose or treat a health problem or disease, and is not a substitute for professional care. Always consult your personal healthcare provider. The opinions or views expressed on do not necessarily represent those of 30Seconds or any of its employees, corporate partners or affiliates.

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This is so good to hear. Concussions are scary!
Elisa A. Schmitz 30Seconds
My son played football and lacrosse in high school. I always told him that if he got a concussion, that would be it - no more of those rough sports. I am grateful he didn't get a concussion. But great news that we're learning how to better treat them!

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