Patients who have suffered from a concussion often notice the following regarding their efforts to engage in physical activity:

  • Their resting heart rate tends to be higher than pre-injury and it elevates to significantly higher levels for much lower levels of exertion than would have been experienced before injury;
  • Any change in body position from laying to sitting or sitting to standing often leaves patients feeling lightheaded and faint in a way not previously experienced;
  • Attempts to work with resistance exercises (weights and bands) leads to irregular breathing and headaches and/or;
  • Exercise, in general, often leads to an exacerbation of their symptoms particularly dizziness and headache.

Highmark’s clinical team has managed and cared for a significant volume of patients over their decades of clinical experience, and observed the above feature consistently in non-athletes, as well as amateur and professional athletes. Clinicians at the University of Buffalo had similar observations and over the past several years designed a protocol for assessing and following this dysfunction –  Buffalo Treadmill Concussion Test (BCTT). Highmark employs the BCTT in all concussion patients before clearing patients to return to play and/or return to any form of significant exercise regime.

Working with professional trainers, Highmark has evolved a unique approach to the rehabilitation of physical function and autonomic nervous system imbalance after concussion. Patients are evaluated from the perspective of functional movement and then the clinical team provides an individualized program of rehabilitation.