When it comes to concussions, the road to recovery definitely varies from person to person. Each patient is different, both from a psychological and biological standpoint. In addition, relying wholly on concussion symptoms to determine the gravity of the injury is unrealistic. As a result, treating mild traumatic brain injuries is challenging; no reliable recipe on how to heal one exists.
Nevertheless, leading concussion specialists are always searching for innovative methods to enhance recovery. One approach has been to encourage active rehabilitation after a concussion, as opposed to strict rest. Active rehabilitation involves resuming normal activities after being concussed.
As Dr. Danny Thomas explained: “After an operation, you don’t just sit in bed and expect to get better. You’re encouraged to get up and do some light activity. With concussion, we’re moving towards active rehabilitation earlier.”
Post-Concussion Recovery Treatment
As a part of active rehabilitation, concussion specialists and neuro-optometrists are starting to use NeuroTracker to treat mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBIs). Dr. Isabelle Gagnon recently described the cognitive training program as a “treadmill to heal concussions.” She is a researcher for the Research Institute for CUSM and physiotherapist at the Montreal Children’s Hospital.
Already aware of NeuroTracker’s potential to rewire connections in the brain among professional athletes, Dr. Gagnon is trying this intervention on concussed patients. Her objective is to see if NeuroTracker can help heal a concussed brain.
NeuroTracker for Rehabilitation
One of her patients is a 14-year-old who is experiencing her third concussion. Surprisingly enough, the patient did not get a concussion from karate, a sport she has a black belt in. She was concussed after a ball hit her head at school. This has happened to her three times.
Twice a week, she is put in a small, dark room in the hospital. She sits facing a screen and puts on NeuroTracker’s 3D glasses. Her NeuroTracker program starts and she is asked to track four objects among the other objects moving around her screen.
Dr. Gagnon explains that children take a longer time to recover than adults because their brain is not yet fully developed. As a result, the brain is forced to heal itself while also continuing to develop.
Cognitive Training for Brain Injuries
While Dr. Gagnon is using NeuroTracker on concussed patients in clinical trials, other specialists have been using the rehabilitative tool for a while. Dr. Charles Shidlofksy, for instance, was initially interested in NeuroTracker when he worked on a brain injury project with functional neurologists. He said that he finds the cognitive training exercise useful in taking on the perceptual-cognitive aspect of recovery.
From a patient’s perspective, he explained that it’s a nice piece of the puzzle when he or she feels that everything is coming back together. Dr. Shidlofsky believes that it means the patient has rebuilt most of his or her fundamental sensory functions and can now take on high-level cognitive tasks.
Proactive Concussion Treatment
Similarly, Dr. Keith Smithson explains that NeuroTracker has become an must-have tool in his post-concussion recovery sessions. He says that one of its major benefits is that it doesn’t rely solely on asking how the patient feels. It looks at neurological change correlated by numerical change in data, which allows him to quantify the intervention and connect it with subjective assessments.
So, while concussions are still plagued by so many unknowns, health specialists are taking a proactive approach to treating concussions. Moving forward, it will be beneficial to ensure that a patient’s recovery is constantly reevaluated and that innovative technologies are used. After all, we only have one brain so shouldn’t we put all the odds on our side?
This article was inspired by Un tapis roulant pour guérir les commotions cérébrales, written by Anne Caroline Desplanques and published in Le Journal de Montréal on July 19th, 2017.
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