EAST GREENWICH, R.I. (WPRI) — Doctors now say if you get a concussion, don’t treat it the way your parents likely did.
Rest is no longer the best medicine.
Sports medicine doctor Philip Salko said new treatment approaches like active rehabilitation, involving things like balance and concentration exercises, lead to faster recoveries and fewer symptoms.
Salko works with Dr. Caroline Bertram and a larger team at University Orthopedics, which launched a sports concussion rehabilitation center several months ago. The goal is a more holistic approach, with doctors, athletic trainers and physical therapists working together to help patients.
“We’re seeing that rehab for concussions is much more active process versus previously, where you stay in a dark room, you don’t really do too much,” Bertram said.
Salko is also a team physician at Brown University and the head team physician at Salve Regina University, and he said he’s had to tell several football, ice hockey and soccer players that their sports careers were over because of concussion issues.
Target 12 reported on Monday that tackle football participation is on the rise again at Rhode Island high schools after years of decline.
“My biggest message for coaches—if there’s any doubt that day, just sit them out,” Salko said. “If you rush it, you can see an example of what happened to poor Tua [Tagovailoa].”
The Miami Dolphins quarterback suffered head injuries in back-to-back games earlier this fall, resulting in at least one concussion and causing the NFL to change its concussion protocol.
“The big thing we worry about is this terrible thing called second impact syndrome,” Salko said, which results in brain swelling and can be fatal.
Bertram said she often cautions patients about returning to physical activity too quickly.
“Their symptoms may be better, but those underlying things may still be there,” she said. “If they were to then get reinjured, then things are going to be even worse.”