Post Concussion Management

What is a Concussion?

 

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a force imparted to your brain. This force can be direct, such as from a hit to your head, or indirect, from an impact somewhere else on your body that transmits force to the brain. Concussions affect how the brain functions, but don’t show up on standard imaging tests like X-rays, MRIs, or CT scans. 

 

A concussion is classified as "mild" because it is not usually life-threatening. However, the effects of a concussion can be serious and last for days, weeks, or even longer. In most individuals, symptoms may occur within the first 7 to 10 days and go away within three months and they can persist for a year or more for a more serious event. Medications, physiotherapy, and behavioural therapy may be used as a healing treatment for a better recovery journey. 

 

Symptoms 

 

Post-concussion symptoms include: 

 

  • Headaches 
  • Dizziness 
  • Fatigue 
  • Irritability 
  • Anxiety 
  • Insomnia 
  • Loss of concentration and memory 
  • Depression 
  • Ringing in the ears 
  • Blurry vision 
  • Noise and light sensitivity 
  • Rarely, decreases in taste and smell 

Post-concussion headaches can vary and may feel like tension-type headaches or migraines. Most often, they are tension-type headaches. These may be associated with a neck injury that happened at the same time as the head injury. 

 

When do Concussion Symptoms Appear? 

 

Concussion symptoms usually appear within minutes of the blow to the head. Some symptoms may take several hours to appear. Symptoms can change days later, and others can develop when the brain is stressed by such activities of reading or running. 

 

How Physio can help

 

Concussions affect different people in different ways, so your physiotherapist will start by assessing your condition. Often, the injury that causes a concussion may also cause a neck injury. Your physio will assess your neck, as well as your neurological status, balance, and overall function. Based on his or her findings, your physio may use some of the following treatment options to help you feel like yourself again: 

  • Education 
  • Manual therapy 
  • Stretching or strengthening exercises 
  • Balance and vestibular exercises 
  • Gradual exertion training 
  • Progressive Return to activity or sport 

Concussions are complex injuries and are treated best by a team of different health care professionals, especially if your symptoms are slow to recover. Your physio will work closely with the rest of your health care team to optimize your recovery so that you can get back to doing what you love. 

 

When do Concussion Symptoms Appear?

 

Concussion symptoms usually appear within minutes of the blow to the head. Some symptoms may take several hours to appear. Symptoms can change days later and others can develop when the brain is stressed by such activities of reading or running.

 

When Should a Person with a Possible Concussion go to the Emergency Room?

 

A loss of consciousness (greater than one minute), a neck injury, or symptoms such as weakness or numbness that persists are reasons to send the athlete to the emergency room.

 

Prevention

 

The only known way to prevent post-concussion syndrome is to avoid head injury in the first place.

 

Avoiding head injuries

 

Although you can't prepare for every potential situation, here are some tips for avoiding common causes of head injuries:

 

  • Fasten your seat belt whenever you're traveling in a car, and be sure children are in age-appropriate safety seats. Children under 13 are safest riding in the back seat, especially if your car has airbags.
  • Use helmets whenever you or your children are bicycling, roller-skating, in-line skating, ice-skating, skiing, snowboarding, playing football, batting or running the bases in softball or baseball, skateboarding, or horseback riding. Wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle.
  • Take action at home to prevent falls, such as removing small area rugs, improving lighting, and installing handrails.

Thinking about getting post-concussion treatment, contact Goodwill Physiotherapy & Massage.

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