While time and rest are the most oft-prescribed ways of managing concussions, treatment options don’t end there. A combination of visual, ocular and vestibular therapy can provide relief and improvement to those suffering from post-concussion complications.
That’s according to occupational therapist Charlotte Watership, OTR/L, GCFP, of Step & Spine Physical Therapy in Bend, who’s worked extensively with concussion patients during her 36-year career.
“Those with concussions are often told that it’ll get better, it’s just going to take some time,” Watership said. “Research shows that therapies can make a difference. What I’m able to do is help them with questions like, ‘What do you do when you’re sensitive to noise and light?’ or ‘How can you regulate your dizziness so it doesn’t last as long?’ That’s the difference I provide – the education, the home program and the ocular-vestibular, motor planning.”
When Watership moved to Central Oregon in 2012, she immediately noticed that concussions were being well evaluated in the region, but not necessarily treated. Integrated Eye Care in Bend, she said, was providing vision therapy for concussion sufferers, and some medical professionals provided vestibular care. Watership loves a holistic approach, an approach she brought with her and provided concussion sufferers for years while working on a Neuro Trauma Unit and at her private practice in Denver.
Watership quickly determined such services were necessary in Central Oregon.
Normally, the eyes and the brain are always working in tandem to make the world appear steady. Concussion sufferers often experience a glitch between these two critical points, contributing to dizziness, movement and balance problems, headaches, difficulties thinking and poor concentration — sometimes lasting days, weeks, or months. Many experience a sense of being overwhelmed by all stimuli which affects their ability to function.
“Therapy plays a critical role in leading people toward a sense of normalcy as they deal with concussion symptoms,” Watership said. “I work with visual motor balance difficulties and give people a way to function so they feel some relief.”
While sports concussions get a lot of press today, most of her patients’ concussions are the result of motor vehicle accidents or common daily mishaps. People with all degrees of concussion and concussion symptoms can benefit from physical and occupational therapy.