BUFFALO, N.Y. -- Sports medicine specialists in the University at Buffalo's Sports Medicine Institute have developed a new method for treating athletes who sustain post-concussion syndrome that, unlike the conventional approach, allows athletes to maintain conditioning while recovering gradually from the injury.
For unknown reasons, 5-10 percent of people who experience a concussion have symptoms that persist beyond six weeks. These people are diagnosed with post-concussion syndrome (PCS). Previously there has been no treatment for the condition with proven success.
"The most common approach by physicians is to recommend no exercise and prescribe antidepressants," said Barry Willer, Ph.D., UB professor of psychiatry and rehabilitation sciences. Willer is lead author on the paper describing the new method, published in the September issue of Current Treatment Options in Neurology.
"Most people with PCS have symptoms of depression," said Willer, "so anti-depressant treatment makes sense. However, antidepressants do little more than relieve some of the depression symptoms. We were interested in a treatment that didn't just treat the symptoms, but actually improved the patient's brain function."
The researchers call their new treatment "regulated exercise." The approach consists of determining the ideal exercise program for each athlete based on a number of individual physiological indicators at baseline.
Patients are tested every two to three weeks with specialized equipment at the sports medicine clinic to determine their progress, and a new program is developed based on those results.
Willer and co-author John Leddy, M.D., clinical associate professor of orthopaedics and rehabilitation sciences, indicated it is too early to call the treatment a cure, but they are optimistic about the results so far.
The researchers described the treatment method in mid-September at the 2006 Brain Injury Conference of the Americas in Miami
Contact: Lois Baker
University at Buffalo