Rehabilitation of an Adolescent Equestrian Athlete With a History of Multiple Concussions: A Case Report Describing an Adapted Return-to-Sport Protocol.
BACKGROUND: Equestrian riding is a sport with a high risk of concussion. Currently, the literature guiding rehabilitation for concussions in equestrian athletes is limited, especially for directing return to sport. CASE DESCRIPTION: In this case report, a 14-year-old female equestrian athlete presented to physical therapy following her third concussion in 3 years. Her primary complaints were headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, light sensitivity, and neck pain. On examination, the patient demonstrated reproduction of symptoms during testing of the vestibular-ocular reflex, showed a 3-line symptomatic loss on the dynamic visual acuity test, and had impairments in the joint position error test (1/5 correct on the left, 4/5 correct on the right) and a Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) score of 38/60 errors. A return-to-riding protocol was adapted from general return-to-sport guidelines and tailored to meet the unique demands of the patient's equestrian sport. The protocol included phased progression through no activity, light aerobic activity, moderate aerobic activity, sport-specific nonjumping skills, sport-specific jumping skills, full practice, and return to competition. During the protocol, the patient participated in 8 physical therapy sessions over 4 weeks for vestibular training, aerobic conditioning, and cervical and core exercises, as well as equestrian exercises at her stables. OUTCOMES: At the final evaluation, the patient reported no symptoms at rest, with exercise, or when testing vestibular-ocular reflex. Improvements were noted in the dynamic visual acuity test, joint position error, and BESS, with changes in the BESS exceeding minimal detectable change. The patient completed the full return-to-riding protocol in 8 weeks and was able to return to equestrian competition without complaints. DISCUSSION: This case report describes the physical therapy management of an adapted return-to-sport protocol for an equestrian athlete with a history of multiple sport-related concussions. LEVEL OF EVIDENCE: Therapy, level 5. J Orthop Sports Phys Ther 2018;48(12):934-942. Epub 27 Jul 2018. doi:10.2519/jospt.2018.8214.
Gunter, KB; Shields, CJ; Ott, SD; Coronado, RA
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