Concussions are serious injuries. They are a form of mild traumatic brain injury and can commonly occur following sports injuries and motor vehicle accidents. Rehabilitation of concussion often requires a multi-disciplinary approach. Physiotherapists help as part of treating concussions.
Who gets a concussion?
Anyone involved in high risk activities (e.g., sports), or involved in a traumatic incident (such as an accident) can sustain a concussion. Did you know? You do not need to hit your head to have a concussion. Whiplash and fast accelerations of the head can also result in a concussion.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Concussions can cause a variety of symptoms, including headache, light disturbance, dizziness, vision problems, nausea, vomiting, balance issues, ringing in the ears, fatigue, concentration difficulties, mood changes, insomnia, among other symptoms. Did you know? Vomiting more than once after a concussion is a medial emergency and requires EMS activation. As there are other signs and symptoms which require urgent medical attention, if you think you have a concussion, seek emergency medical care.
How can physiotherapists help treat concussion?
Physiotherapists are trained to assist with the symptoms and recovery from concussion. Oftentimes, a medical doctor will also be involved to guide treatment and medical management once the concussion is diagnosed. Physiotherapist can assist with the following common issues occurring with concussions:
- Headache: A common and often most profound symptom, physiotherapists can assist with treating underlying causes of headache, such as muscular causes of pain, joint restriction, balance and vertigo issues and energy management. Treatment is often hands-on and may involve the use of specialized modalities (such as IFC and laser) which can assist with the symptoms.
- Neck pain and symptoms: Head and neck symptoms can be a result of muscle and joint restrictions. Your physiotherapist will conduct a thorough assessment of your muscles and joints and determine the most appropriate course of action based on clinical assessment.
- Vestibular rehab: After a concussion, you can have problems with your vestibular system (sense of position and balance). Physiotherapist can treat symptoms indicating vestibular involvement, such as prolonged dizziness and balance issues.
- Balance issues: After a concussion, you can have problems with your balance. Your physiotherapist will conduct balance evaluations to determine an appropriate course of action. Treatment for balance issues can help you feel stronger and more at ease with moving for your day-to-day activities.
- Energy management: Physiotherapists can assist with helping you manage your day to prioritize your energy and optimize your success. Other strategies involving advice on aerobic activity, sleep and home exercises will also assist with recovering strength, vitality, improve circulation and reduction of symptoms.
- Identification of symptoms which require involvement of other professionals: Your physiotherapist will identify symptoms such as low mood, appetite changes, concentration difficulties, sustained low energy, which require evaluation by other health professionals and assist you in seeking care from these professionals.
Did you know there is legislation in place for individuals who sustained a head injury in sport, or are suspected to have sustained a concussion on the field? Rowan’s Law requires that individuals with suspected head injury be removed from play until medically cleared to return to play. Rowan’s Law, is in place to prevent serious injury and death due to concussion. Rowan’s Law is named after Rowan Stringer, a young rugby player who died after sustaining a concussion on the field. For more information, visit Rowan’s Law.
Written by Emma Jianopoulos, Physiotherapist