There is a dangerous trend of equating an injury with how visible the problem is. Of course a broken bone or a torn ligament is going to create a scene, but this isn’t a failsafe way to judge an injury. When an athlete blows out their knee it becomes something that everyone can see, and the pain on the player’s face merely confirms what everyone else is already thinking: that injury is real, that injury is painful, that person is going to need medical attention.
Head injuries aren’t typically as visible. When someone hits their head on TV, they may become unconscious for a moment or they may be able to stand up right away. They might look dazed or need a minute to regain their ability to think straight, but then they can walk off the field just fine. The injury doesn’t look as serious. And too often it isn’t treated as seriously.
A broken bone may be visible, but a concussion is in many ways far more serious of a problem. A brain injury requires immediate and ongoing care to ensure that the brain can regain optimal functionality. On television, injuries that turn out to be “just a concussion” are often anti-climactic events that the audience is led to believe will be over in days, if not hours. In real life, however, these traumatic brain injuries — which usually stem from a fall, severe shaking, a car accident or a direct blow to the head — can severely impact a person’s quality of life for several months.
A cold is typically more obvious than a chronic disease, but that doesn’t make the chronic disease any less difficult to deal with. In fact, the chronic disease is typically significantly more serious and complicated than the typical cold. Similarly, concussions are not something that can be overlooked. Following brain injury, whether as a result of a sport incident, a car accident, trip and fall, or other event, concussion therapy is absolutely necessary to ensure that there is no lasting damage following the trauma.
Left untreated, concussions can even inhibit growth in young children, and bring on early dementia for older patients. Fortunately, the physiotherapy field is continually discovering new ways to help patients suffering from long-term concussion complications.
Finding Concussion Therapy Post-Trauma
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 returning 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.
If you believe you have sustained a concussion, please contact Amped Physiotherapy so we can do a thorough exam and get you on a recovery plan!