Implementation and Adoption of Telerehabilitation for Treating Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

Kody R. Campbell, Jennifer L. Wilhelm, Natalie C. Pettigrew, Kathleen T. Scanlan, James C. Chesnutt, Laurie A. King

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background and Purpose: Multimodal physical therapy for mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) has been shown to improve recovery. Due to the coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, a clinical trial assessing the timing of multimodal intervention was adapted for telerehabilitation. This pilot study explored feasibility and adoption of an in-person rehabilitation program for subacute mTBI delivered through telerehabilitation. Methods: Fifty-six in-person participants-9 males; mean (SD) age 34.3 (12.2); 67 (31) days post-injury-and 17 telerehabilitation participants-8 males; age 38.3 (12.7); 61 (37) days post-injury-with subacute mTBI (between 2 and 12 weeks from injury) were enrolled. Intervention included 8, 60-minute visits over 6 weeks and included subcategories that targeted cervical spine, cardiovascular, static balance, and dynamic balance impairments. Telerehabilitation was modified to be safely performed at home with minimal equipment. Outcome measures included feasibility (the number that withdrew from the study, session attendance, home exercise program adherence, adverse events, telerehabilitation satisfaction, and progression of exercises performed), and changes in mTBI symptoms pre- and post-rehabilitation were estimated with Hedges' g effect sizes. Results: In-person and telerehabilitation had a similar study withdrawal rate (13% vs 12%), high session attendance (92% vs 97%), and no adverse events. The telerehabilitation group found the program easy to use (4.2/5), were satisfied with care (4.7/5), and thought it helped recovery (4.7/5). The telerehabilitation intervention was adapted by removing manual therapy and cardiovascular portions and decreasing dynamic balance exercises compared with the in-person group. The in-person group had a large effect size (−0.94) in decreases in symptoms following rehabilitation, while the telerehabilitation group had a moderate effect size (−0.73). Discussion and Conclusions: Telerehabilitation may be feasible for subacute mTBI. Limited ability to address cervical spine, cardiovascular, and dynamic balance domains along with underdosage of exercise progression may explain group differences in symptom resolution.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)E1-E10
JournalJournal of Neurologic Physical Therapy
Volume46
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Oct 1 2022

Keywords

  • concussion
  • mild traumatic brain injury
  • physical therapy
  • telehealth
  • telerehabilitation

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physical Therapy, Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation
  • Rehabilitation
  • Clinical Neurology

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