Arianna Patterson Hits Homerun and Overcomes Concussion

Arianna Patterson, 14, of Danielsville, always considered herself pretty tough. A tournament softball player and cross country runner, she has had her fair share of bumps and bruises over the years.

But when a bump on the head at a friend’s birthday party left her feeling nauseous and with a serious headache, she knew she needed help. CAT scans at the ER came back normal, but she was diagnosed with a concussion and was told she needed physical therapy.

Fortunately, Arianna and her mom knew where to turn for help. Arianna had already been a patient at Good Shepherd Physical Therapy – Laurys Station, where therapist Elizabeth (Liz) Buresh, PT, had treated her for migraines. Liz quickly determined that the cause of Arianna’s headaches was poor posture and began therapy to help her hold herself properly. After two sessions with Liz, the headaches that clinicians at other healthcare providers had not been able to resolve were gone.

When Arianna arrived back at Good Shepherd for help with the concussion, her balance was off.  She was having headaches again. She was nauseous and tired, but she knew she was in good hands with Liz.

Liz’s first course of action was to get Arianna’s debilitating headaches under control.

“My headaches were so bad I would literally hide in a dark room to get some relief,” says Arianna.

After starting Arianna on a strict no TV, no phone or bright lights regimen, Liz focused on postural balance. She designed an exercise program to help Arianna reinforce the proper position of her head over her shoulders and the importance of keeping her shoulders square, instead of rounded.

Once the headaches were again under control, Liz concentrated on helping Arianna improve her vestibular function. Like many concussion patients, Arianna had problems with dizziness, keeping her balance and a spinning sensation. All of these problems made movement difficult at times and increased the risk that Arianna could fall and injure herself further.

“Movement is important for everyone, but especially for an athlete like Arianna who is used to being active in sports,” says Liz.

Two activities that Liz used to help right Arianna’s trouble with balance were throwing and catching weighted balls, as well as bouncing – or rebounding – on a mini trampoline. Rebounding has proven very beneficial in helping patients overcome vestibular issues, because the vertical forces, vibration, soft surface and movement help improve balance, proprioception, coordination and reaction time.

Liz says that Arianna was a very motivated patient because she wanted to get back to doing what she loved best – sports.

“Arianna really listened and took the advice we gave her to heart,” says Liz. “She gave therapy 110 percent.”

Arianna made great progress. Within a few short weeks, she was running on the treadmill.

Now, several months later, thanks to the therapy she received at Good Shepherd Physical Therapy – Laurys Station, Arianna’s concussion is a thing of the past.