Building Your Concussion Treatment Team

There's synergy in teamwork.

There's synergy in teamwork.

In light of the increased awareness of concussion and the long-term implications of untreated traumatic brain injuries, I felt it would be a great opportunity to write further about concussion management.  I believe that concussion management must be a team-based approach – from naturopathic and medical doctors to optometrists to physiotherapists, each treatment angle should compliment each other so that you get the best opportunity to recover.

With that in mind, I have been reaching out and meeting various practitioners in Nova Scotia that work with concussion.  I had the opportunity to sit down with Brian Sutherland, PT and ask him a few questions about his approach to concussion management.

Brian Sutherland is a physiotherapist in the HRM that often works with concussion patients.  In addition to physiotherapy techniques for the management of concussion, Brian has also extended his knowledge into osteopathic techniques that also utilize mindfulness to support tissue healing.  He has studied under Dr. Bruno Chikly, a medical doctor and osteopathic physician who has also published numerous articles on his work in peer-reviewed journals.

Osteopathic manipulative treatments have been cited in the literature for a number of various complaints, including brain injury.  In one study, osteopathic manipulative treatment was suspected to help reduce neurological inflammation (and thus dysfunction) by improving the glymphatic system, the lymphatic system of the brain.  A recent discovery in the scientific world, the glymphatic system is understood to be active while we are sleeping and is responsible for moving toxic byproducts of metabolism out of the brain.  Other reports suggest that healing occurs by osteopathic support of blood flow to the brain and supporting communication between neurons.  Because the mechanism of concussions, particularly in those who have symptoms for longer than a month is not fully understood, it’s difficult to say what the exact mechanism of action is.  What is known however is that osteopathic techniques can provide symptomatic relief and overall improvement in a patient with mild brain injury.

With respect to mindfulness, instilling a regular practice can help with attentional problems, mental health concerns and any pain symptoms associated with mild traumatic brain injury.  Brian encourages mindfulness during treatment in tandem with osteopathic therapy for traumatized tissues.

Brian suggests that initial treatment of the traumatized nervous system in concussion seems to result in a more rapid resolution of symptoms and earlier return to pre-trauma function.  If you’d like to learn more about Brian, his approach and how it could fit into your concussion management team, you can visit his website at


Bedard, M et. al. (2003). Pilot evaluation of a mindfulness-based intervention to improve quality of life among individuals who sustained traumatic brain injuries. Disability and Rehabilitation. 25(13):722-731.

Castillo, I; Wolf, K; Rakowsky, A. (2016). Concussions and Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: An Adolescent Case Presentation. The Journal of the American Osteopathic Association. 116(3):178-81.

Guernsey, DT 3rd; Leder, A; Yao, S. (2016 Mar 1). Resolution of Concussion Symptoms After Osteopathic Manipulative Treatment: A Case Report. J Am Osteopath Assoc. 116(3):e13-7.