University Orthopedics Introduces Sports Concussion Rehabilitation Center

EAST PROVIDENCE, R.I. – In an effort to fill a void in the availability of a vital concussion treatment in Rhode Island, University Orthopedics recently became the first private practice in the state to create a division dedicated solely to the treatment of concussed patients.

“As our overall understanding of concussions and recovery from these brain injuries improves, physical therapy has emerged as an important resource for all individuals who sustain a concussive injury,” said University Orthopedics President Dr. Edward Akelman. “With the creation of the Sports Concussion Rehabilitation Center and the addition of Sports Concussion Physical Therapist Caroline Bertram, PT, DPT, University Orthopedics hopes to make this treatment more accessible to athletes who have been newly diagnosed with a concussion or those struggling with lingering effects.”

While other physical therapists may include concussion therapy in their list of services, Bertram specializes in the field.

“Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that need to be taken seriously and I am thrilled to offer this vital treatment option at University Orthopedics,” Bertram said. “By improving neurological function, physical therapy not only results in better and faster recovery for our patients, but it can also decrease the risk of future concussion or other subsequent injuries that can occur as a result of persistent underlying deficits.”

Bertram – who sees patients at University Orthopedics’ locations in East Providence and East Greenwich  – says it’s ideal to begin treatment within the first 24 to 48 hours following a concussion to help patients manage symptoms and help improve recovery time. In addition, she can see any refractory cases or athletes who sustained a concussion and are slow to recover.

Areas in which physical therapy can aid in concussion recovery include:

Headaches/Post-Traumatic Migraines

Determine the likely cause of the persisting headaches and address the root cause as appropriate.

Cervical

Neck pain is common after a concussion as many concussion injuries result in a whiplash

mechanism. We can treat any joint or muscle-related problems relating to the patient’s neck pain.

Vestibular

We can assess and address any related positional vertigo (BPPV). We can also address

any reduced vestibular function which results in poor balance, coordination, and difficulty with navigation through their daily environment following a concussion. This can show up as balance problems, dizziness, or an increase in car sickness/motion sickness.

Ocular/Oculomotor

We can assess accommodative deficits and convergence insufficiencies and help to treat them as appropriate. We can also facilitate contact with a specialist if necessary.

Autonomic and Cardiovascular

We can detect and address autonomic dysfunction that may result following a concussion. We can facilitate a gradual return to appropriate physical activities to help with appropriate cardio-vascular function.

Emotional/Mood

athletes don’t like to be put on the sidelines. Active participation in something that is helping them get better can help reduce anxiety and depression surrounding their injury.

Cognitive

We can help with dual-task training. We can facilitate a gradual return to typical everyday tasks by connecting cognitive work with general movement and physical tasks as appropriate. We can also specialize these tasks to the person’s specific sport or typical activities.

Concussion Center Providers include: 

Andrew Chen, MD, Peter Kriz, MD, Philip Salko, MD, Caroline Bertram, PT, DPT and Kate Wilks, LAT, ATC

About Caroline Bertram, PT, DPT

Caroline Bertram is a Doctor of Physical Therapy, specializing in the treatment of concussions. After earning a bachelor’s degree in exercise science from Sacred Heart University, she attended the University of Rhode Island, where she earned her Doctor of Physical Therapy degree. Initially treating general orthopedic conditions, she quickly developed a special interest in treating patients with balance, dizziness, and other neurological concerns. She has worked with players from the Providence Bruins, Brown University athletes, as well as many other student-athletes in Rhode Island.