Physical therapists use new methods to treat concussions

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NEWBURGH, Ind. (WEHT) If you’ve had a broken arm or leg, chances are it healed after a cast was put on it. But concussions are one of the more difficult injuries to treat for high school athletes.

There are new ways to help athletes recover and return to the field.

Jasper Heubner is a wide receiver for the Castle Knights.

“We’re 4-2. We’re having a pretty good year so far,” he says, describing Castle’s season so far. He’s played football since he was a kid. He’s scored touchdowns, but has also had three concussions with symptoms that can last weeks.

“My first two, just taking it cautious was two weeks or so. I got back to doing things normally. But my most recent one, there’s still times where I think if I get a headache or if I get tapped on the head at times, I freak out,” Heubner recalled.

“A lot of times with concussions, you have headaches, blurred vision, balance issues,” says Joey Pettyjohn of ProRehab.

Therapists with ProRehab are using the Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test, where an athlete runs on a treadmill while speed and slope increase. Pettyjohn says they believe keeping athletes active helps the healing process.

“Before starting this type of treatment, it was thought that rest was the best. Basically, unfortunately, athletes were put into areas of dark rooms, quiet, low simulation, until symptoms went away and then they would return to the field. What we find is we see secondary problems such as depression and anxiety,” he says.

“The first time I could tell what they were reading and what they were looking for,” Heubner recalled.

It’s one of several tests therapists do. They also do balance exercises, and pencil push up tests, to test vision. 

“It’s important to stimulate that brain and so it helps sync the brain and the body back by increasing their activity sooner than just having them rest,” says Pettyjohn.

Heubner says he doesn’t plan to play football after high school, but believes the tests will help those looking to play in college or the pros.

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(This story was originally published on October 11, 2019)

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