OT & Post Concussion Syndrome
Post-concussion syndrome is a complex disorder in which various symptoms — such as headaches and dizziness — last for weeks/months after the initial concussion.
Occupational Therapy and the Management of Post Concussion Syndrome:
Occupational Therapy (OT) helps people with the functional aspects of their everyday life. Persons with Post Concussion Syndrome often have challenges with completing their everyday activities (self-care, housework, parenting/caregiving responsibilities) and returning to work. By working with an OT, the client begins to develop strategies to help them manage their symptoms and gradually return to their pre-accident activities. During OT Sessions, we review the client’s Post Concussion Syndrome symptoms and then look at ways to help them manage their triggers. Below I have listed a number of common symptoms and the ways in which OT can help a person manage them. Each client comes with a specific set of symptoms and activities that they are struggling with on a daily basis, thus each section/recommendation is adapted specifically for the client:
o OT will review and educate around proper body mechanics when completing everyday tasks, desk posture, and proper sleep posture
o Relaxation strategies including breathing, use of eye pillow, and some gentle yoga poses that help decrease headaches and can be used on a daily basis are reviewed with the client.
o Pacing strategies, are developed with the client to help prevent the onset or worsening of headaches. This includes looking at the typical daily tasks, helping the client to prioritize, include rest breaks and develop a plan to manage their symptoms. This is followed by developing a structured plan to gradually increase their endurances such that the client is able to tolerate more tasks without increasing their headache.
o Participation in a yoga class for post concussion syndrome (designed and led by an Occupational Therapist) is often recommended.
Cognitive Strategies: (OT often works in conjunction with Speech and Language Therapists to help with the following symptoms)
o Decreased Memory: OT reviews the appropriate use of technology with alarms and reminders, and helps the client to develop systems to manage everyday items that get misplaced.
o Decreased ability to keep organized: OT works closely with the client to develop strategies to help develop and then maintain an organizational system.
o Reviewing everyday problems/challenges and work with the client to develop strategies to manage these challenges.
o Pacing strategies (as cognitive work can increase headaches): OT works with the client to prioritize and pace cognitive activities to help minimize headaches. OT then works to gradually increase cognitive endurance through meaningful activity.
o Time Management strategies-OT works, recommends appropriate technology that meets the client needs and then works with the client to allow the client to develop specific time management strategies.
o OT works with Binocular Vision Optometrist/Physiotherapist and helps to support the client with Binocular vision and/or balance exercises.
o Visual Processing: OT’s assess client’s visual perceptual skills and works with the client to make accommodations in everyday life and complete activities to promote improved visual processing skills.
o Recommend wearing sunglasses to help with photosensitivity (sensitivity to bright lights).
Noise sensitivity: Clients often report hyperacusis (a disorder of noise perception in which clients report being overly sensitive to a range of sounds). OT works with the client to develop a noise sensitivity plan as follows:
o OT works with the client to develop a plan to gradually improve cognitive endurance when there is background noise.
o OT works with the client to help develop an appropriate individualized sleep routine.
o OT reviews strategies to help fall asleep and return to sleep after waking.
o OT reviews the sleep routine with the client and helps guide the client to make adapt the sleep routine if required.
Return to Work/School:
o OT works with the client and other team members to help the client gradually improve their physical and cognitive endurances.
o OT can help develop a client-specific graduated return to work/school plan and make recommendations around work/school accommodations that can allow for a successful return to work/school.
o OT can act as an advocate too and help educate the workplace or school around the client’s specific needs as related to the client's return to work/school.
What Is Post-Conscussion Syndrome?
or more details on how an Occupational Therapist can help manage post concussion symptoms, please do not hesitate to contact Sheri Martin Soosaar at Creative Therapy Health Services, (519) 954-5026.
Sheri Martin Soosaar, Executive Director at Creative Therapy Health Services