A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) caused by a shaking or jarring of the brain. These injuries can happen with a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body – like in sports, motor vehicle collisions, daily life and workplace injuries, slip-and-falls.
Concussive forces result in a change in brain cell chemistry and structural injury. This can lead to a variety of signs and symptoms, depending on the portion(s) of the brain involved in the concussion. Patients with concussions may experience many symptoms, including but not limited to headaches, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, vision changes, sensitivity to light and noise, memory and concentration issues, emotional changes, neck pain, and tension.
While many concussions will resolve within 7-10 days of injury, early intervention and treatment by a trained professional are important. Returning to your pre-injury mental and physical activities too early can prolong your symptoms and, in activities with a risk of a second impact or blow, be dangerous to your health.
Head injuries are often not as obvious as a broken bone, ligament sprain, or open wound. We are getting better at taking impact injuries seriously through policy and education in schools, sports organizations, and workplaces. Potential concussions need to be identified and managed appropriately to prevent prolonged symptoms. Your physiotherapist is trained to help you navigate your return to activity in a safe and sensible manner.
Physiotherapists who are trained in concussion rehabilitation use the latest evidence to provide quality care for concussion patients. Your physiotherapist will assess you and determine a treatment plan that will address your symptoms, prevent further injury and provide guidance on a gradual return to activities as tolerated. Your treatment may involve hands-on treatment, gradual progression of mental and physical activity, vision therapy, vestibular rehabilitation, and education on managing your concussion symptoms. Your physiotherapist can also help you to build a health care team for your symptoms, as needed.
Early identification and management of concussion symptoms is associated with better outcomes. Severe symptoms (loss of consciousness, severe headache or neck pain, repeated vomiting, significant confusion, numbness/tingling/weakness in arms or legs, seizures) should be assessed immediately in the emergency department. Mild to moderate symptoms should be assessed by your primary care physician or nurse practitioner as soon as possible. You should be referred to concussion rehabilitation early, to manage your symptoms and guide your return to activity. Physiotherapy can help you manage every phase of your concussion healing process, from early post-injury all the way to return to work, sports, and school.
In the case of concussions, research no longer supports complete mental and physical rest until symptoms subside. Your brain and your body do need to heal and you do need to modify your activities to manage your symptoms and reduce the risk of a second concussion – but you should have help in determining how much activity is safe for your injury. Your physiotherapist is trained to help you to build a plan of modified activity to gradually return to your daily life.
You should seek treatment from a physiotherapist who has training in concussion rehabilitation. These physiotherapists have taken specialized courses to identify and treat the many components of concussion injury. At Amped Physiotherapy, we have several therapists trained in concussion rehabilitation to help you return to your daily life.