The impact of a hard hit can last far beyond initial concussion symptoms.
Aging sports stars are giving a very public glimpse into the long-term results of undiagnosed or untreated concussions and have inspired Bodyworx Physical Therapy and Concussion Center owner Cody Barnett, PT, to add pre-concussion baseline testing and post-concussion rehab to his clinic’s services.
“We started our program a little over a year ago,” Barnett says. “The impetus for it was that over the past several years we’ve seen a lot of sports figures from my own era who have taken their lives, and we’ve also read a lot of stories about athletes getting early dementia in their 50s or 60s. It was heartbreaking to me to keep reading this, so I got together with my staff and we said, ‘We need to do something about this.’”
Concussions often are associated with hard hits taken by football players, but athletes participating in soccer, volleyball, swimming, baseball, softball, cheerleading and even track are among Bodyworx’s post-concussion patients, along with adults who have been in an automobile accident or simply taken a hard fall.
Regardless of cause, Barnett says concussions can have a long-term, limiting impact on people’s lives — a situation Bodyworx is helping to change.
The clinic is among the first in the world to offer the EyeGuide Focus, a 10-second concussion test, for both pre- and post-concussion evaluation, and combines this cutting-edge technology with other tests to measure the visual, vestibular and musculoskeletal systems in order to build customized rehabilitation programs for concussion patients.
Chris Fleming, ATC, LAT, AEMT, ITAT, performing a CTSIB vestibular test with a client
“Our approach is very different from that of anybody else in Kansas,” says Bodyworx’s Concussion Coordinator, Chris Fleming, ATC, LAT, AEMT, ITAT.
Fleming, who has twice been named Kansas Athletic Trainer of the Year and is part of the Kansas Sports Concussion Partnership, says he and Barnett are encouraging athletes to consider a baseline test (at a cost less than that of a pair of athletic shoes) prior to the beginning of a sports season.
“The analogy that we try to give our clients is to think of it as a jigsaw puzzle,” Barnett says. “We know what the picture is supposed to look like. The baseline is like a box lid. If we don’t have a baseline, we still have options and can compare you to a national database.”
If a concussion is sustained, Fleming works closely with parents, teachers, athletic trainers and physicians to evaluate the individual’s readiness to return to both academic and athletic activities.
“The Kansas Concussion Law states that prior to returning to practice or competition, they must have a signed release from an MD or DO. We communicate with the physician so that they can make an educated decision,” Fleming says. “We are advocates for the athlete, and we’re always educating either during their concussion rehabilitation or following their baseline. The education never stops.”
While any concussion should be taken seriously, Barnett says a more intensive follow-up plan may be needed if sensitivity to light or movement, difficulty concentrating, dropping grades, complaints of being foggy, loss of balance, headaches or dizziness are still factors seven to 10 days after the initial event.
“Statistically, about 80 percent of concussion symptoms should dissipate within about two weeks,” Barnett says. “If you’re going longer than two weeks and things aren’t getting better, you need to be evaluated. We have very successful treatment options for people whose symptoms haven’t resolved within that two-week time frame, and we are blessed to see amazing success stories unfold every day.”
For more information about Bodyworx Physical Therapy & Concussion Center, visit bodyworxphysicaltherapy.net or call their office, located at 7015 E. Central in Wichita, at 316-558-8808.