Physical Therapist Bridget Whiteside explains the recovery process for patients with concussions.

How do you approach treating patients with concussions?

The way we manage concussions in the clinic now is much more conservative than we used to. It’s very important for us to be able to communicate regularly with the referral source about where the patient is on a number of fronts, whether it’s emotional, scholastic, and not only balance like what we would treat in the clinic. We are very mindful of how our patients respond to different activities that we do in the clinic, and we make sure that we don’t push them too far, too fast, which is more of the guideline currently.

How do you help manage athletes’ expectations when treating concussions?

Recovering from a concussion takes quite a long time, and for an athlete that’s really hard for them because it slows them down. And it’s important to talk to the patient and/or parents/family members to let them know what to expect with these patients and to know when to pull back on the reins or alert a medical professional when they see certain things in the classroom or emotionally or they notice behaviors change. Those kinds of things are really important, and those are critical things to know before returning a patient to sport or to their full-time activities.

Why do you have a special interest in concussions?

I think concussions became more of an interest for me after I had one. When I was training for a marathon, I was out for a long run, and I tripped over my own two feet essentially and bounced my head off the road. And what I felt after that within the next couple of weeks made me very empathetic toward what those patients go through.