Changes in concussion treatment mean patients start moving sooner

LONE TREE, Colo. - Jordan Green is one of the fastest cup stackers in the state. But her coordination took a hit, after she took a hit on the head, while playing around with some friends. “I fell back and hit the back of my head,” Jordan said.

The 17-year-old from Highlands Ranch had symptoms that wouldn’t go away. “As time went on I got more anxious, and I was more stressed out about things, and I was tired all the time,” she said. “It would be hard to get my eyes to focus.”

So her family took her to the Concussion Center at the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children, where doctors told them treatment has really evolved. “We used to say, literally do no exercise. Just sit until your symptoms have resolved. That has really changed,” said Dr. Sue Kirelik, the medical director.

Patients get moving a lot sooner than they used to. “Strict rest maybe for the first 24 ,48 hours. Yes, you need to be so careful about re-injury, and not doing anything where you might get injured again, but getting them physically moving as they are recovering from the concussion seems to benefit the recovery,” Dr. Kirelik said.

Of course patients can’t do any sports until they are cleared, but Jordan did some monitored, low-impact cardio on a stationary bike. That seemed to help with the rest of rehabilitation.

Fifteen to 20 percent of kids who go to the ER for concussions still have symptoms three months later.

Jordan had lingering problems with her vision.  So she did eye exercise. She worked with balls to help with special awareness and she did work on bosu balls to help with balance.

For her, all of that combined to make her feel better.  “I’m feeling good,” she said.

Doctors want parents to know these treatments are available is your child has persistent symptoms that last beyond the typical 3 to 4 week recovery. They need to be assessed to see if they could benefit from the rehab process.

Visit the Rocky Mountain Hospital for Children's website for more information.