"The treadmill test helps us make a first delineation between what I call physiologic concussion and other possible causes of cognitive symptoms," says Leddy.
"Because a concussion is a brain injury, we thought that cognitive symptoms would be more likely associated with concussions," he says. "Surprisingly, that didn't turn out to be the case. People who have had neck injuries can also have problems with concentration and with memory. They feel like they're in a fog, which is exactly what people report after concussion."
Symptoms reported by both groups were headache, dizziness, blurred vision, poor concentration and memory deficits.
Patients in both groups filled out a detailed questionnaire concerning their symptoms. These responses were then correlated to their treadmill test results.
"Then we did some sophisticated statistical analysis," says Leddy. "Even when we looked at the data in multiple ways, there was really no way to separate out the two groups based on their symptom patterns alone."
Determining which condition a patient has experienced is critical, Leddy explains, because courses of treatment are very different.
"The treatment for a neck injury is actually to be more active, to do physical and vestibular therapy, to have a more active intervention, whereas after a concussion, exercise must begin slowly and incrementally after a period of rest," he says.
Leddy notes that more research should be done on larger samples concerning concussion and neck injury.
In the meantime, he says, patients who think they've had a concussion and whose symptoms have not diminished after several months, should instead be examined for neck and vestibular injury by a sports medicine physician, a neurologist or a physiatrist, a specialist in rehabilitation medicine.
"I think a lot of practitioners listen to the symptoms and just chal
|Contact: Ellen Goldbaum|
University at Buffalo