Clinical characteristics of the cervical spine in patients with persistent post-concussion symptoms: a retrospective analysis
Kennedy, Ewan; Quinn, Dusty; Tumilty, Steve; Chapple, Cathy M
Background Concussion is typically defined as a mild brain injury, and yet the brain is unlikely to be the only source of persistent post-concussion symptoms. Concurrent injury to the cervical spine in particular is acknowledged as a potential source of common persistent symptoms such as headache, dizziness and neck pain. Objectives To describe the cervical spine findings in a series of patients with persistent post-concussion symptoms, and describe the clinical characteristics of a cervicogenic component when it is present. Design Retrospective chart review of a consecutive series of patients with concussion referred to a physiotherapist for cervical spine assessment. Method Patient charts for all patients over a calendar year referred by a concussion service provider to a physiotherapist for cervical spine assessment were de-identified and transferred to the research team. Clinical data were independently extracted by two research assistants and analysed using descriptive statistics. Results/findings Data were analysed from 46 patient charts. Those with a cervicogenic component (n=32) were distinguished from those without a cervicogenic component (n=14) by physical examination findings, particularly pain on manual segmental examination. Physiotherapy treatment of the cervicogenic component (n=21) achieved improvements in function (mean increase of 3.8 in the patient-specific functional scale), and pain (mean decrease of 4.6 in the numeric pain-rating scale). Conclusions The clinical characteristics described in this study give preliminary support to the idea that the cervical spine may contribute to persistent post-concussion symptoms, and highlight the value of physiotherapy assessment and treatment of the cervical spine following a concussive injury.
Rights Statement: http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.msksp.2017.03.002
Keywords: Brain concussion; Neck; Cervicogenic; Physiotherapy; cervical spine
Research Type: Journal Article