BUFFALO, N.Y. -- University at Buffalo researchers are the first to show that a controlled individualized exercise training program can bring athletes and others suffering with post-concussion syndrome (PCS) back to the playing field or to their daily activities.
In a paper published in the January issue of the Clinical Journal of Sport Medicine, the researchers report that a program of progressive exercise developed individually for each participant and performed at levels just below the onset of symptoms is safe and can relieve nearly all PCS symptoms.
Their results counter the accepted wisdom that PCS should be treated with rest, reassurance and antidepressants, and that physical activity should be avoided.
"Perhaps the most exciting aspect of this study is that all of the subjects that participated, both athletes and non-athletes, got better eventually, although the athletes certainly improved the fastest," says Barry Willer, PhD, UB professor of psychiatry and rehabilitation sciences and senior author on the study.
"It also was reassuring to discover that the use of exercise was safe and did not prolong symptoms, a worry expressed by other practitioners."
John J. Leddy, MD, associate professor of orthopaedics and co-director of UB's Sports Medicine Institute, where the study was conducted, is first author on the study. Willer, Leddy and Karl Kozlowski, PhD, UB clinical instructor of exercise and nutrition sciences, developed the exercise protocol. (To view a slide show about a patient who participated in the UB program, go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pUEmfnIIhwM.)
For unknown reasons, 5-10 percent of people who experience a concussion have symptoms that persist beyond six weeks. These persons are diagnosed with PCS. Previously there was no treatment for the condition with proven success.
The UB regimen is based on the hypothesis that the regulatory system responsible for maintaining cerebral blo
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