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The effectiveness of physical therapy interventions for athletes post-concussion: a systematic review
Art K, Ridenour C, Durbin S, Bauer M, Hassen-Miller A
International Journal of Sports Physical Therapy 2023 Feb;18(1):26-38
systematic review

BACKGROUND: Sports-related concussions are the most common cause of head injury in adolescents and young adults. Typical treatment methods for this injury include cognitive and physical rest. Evidence suggests that physical activity and physical therapy interventions can be beneficial to decrease post-concussion symptoms. PURPOSE: The aim of this systematic review was to investigate the effectiveness of physical therapy interventions for adolescent and young adult athletes post-concussion. STUDY DESIGN: Systematic review. METHODS: The following databases were utilized for the search: PubMed, CINAHL, Proquest, Medline, SPORTDiscus, and Scopus. The search strategy focused on athletes, concussions, and physical therapy interventions. Data extraction from each article included: Authors, subjects, gender, mean age, age range, specific sport, acute or chronic concussion, first or recurrent concussion, treatments for intervention and control group, and outcomes measured. RESULTS: Eight studies met the inclusion criteria. Six of the eight articles scored seven or higher on the PEDro Scale. Physical therapy interventions, such as an aerobic intervention or a multimodal approach, show improvements in time to recovery and reduction of post-concussion symptoms in patients who have had a concussion. Physical activity and physical therapy as early as a couple days following injury, is beneficial at decreasing post-concussion symptoms, allows for earlier return to play, and/or shorter days to recovery, and is considered safe for treating post-concussion symptoms. CONCLUSION: This systematic review demonstrates that physical therapy interventions including aerobic exercise and multimodal approaches have been found to be beneficial in treating adolescent and young adult athletes post-concussion. Utilizing aerobic or multimodal interventions for this population allows for a quicker symptom recovery and return to sport than traditional treatment of physical and cognitive rest. Future research should investigate the superior intervention for adolescents and young adults with post-concussion syndrome and determine if a single treatment or a multimodal approach is more beneficial.

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