Concussion

Your brain is your body’s command center. Its soft, sensitive tissues float in a cushioning fluid within the hard and sturdy skull. But a swift blow to the head or violent shaking can breach these protections and lead to a mild type of traumatic brain injury known as a concussion.

More than 1 million mild traumatic brain injuries occur nationwide each year. These injuries can be caused by falls, car crashes or recreational activities like bike riding, skateboarding, skiing or even playing at the playground.

More than half of concussions occur in children - often when playing organized sports such as football and soccer.

Although concussions are considered to be a mild brain injury, they need to be taken seriously. They need to be immediately treated.

With proper care, most people recover fully from a concussion. In some cases, a concussion can have a lasting effect on thinking, attention, learning and memory - particularly when treatment is delayed.

A concussion can arise from the brain moving either rapidly back and forth or banging against the side of the skull. This sudden movement can stretch and damage brain tissue, which can trigger a chain of harmful changes that interfere with normal brain activities.

A concussion isn’t visible from the outside, and you can’t see it with standard imaging tools like MRI and CAT scans. Instead, healthcare providers look for signs and symptoms of abnormal brain function to make a diagnosis.

Common concussion symptoms include:

  • Physical

    • Headache
    • Balance Issues
    • Dizziness
    • Visual Disturbances
    • Light Sensitivity
    • Noise Sensitivity
    • Head/Neck Pain
    • Nausea
  • Cognitive

    • Foggy Feeling
    • Lack of Focus
    • Memory Loss
    • Concentration Loss
    • Slow Responses
  • Emotional

    • Depression
    • Sadness
    • Anxiety
    • Moodiness
    • Irritability
  • Sleep

    • Decreased Sleep
    • Increased Sleep
    • Can't Go to Sleep
    • Can't Stay Awake

Loss of consciousness occurs in about 1 in 10 concussion cases. A person with a concussion might have trouble answering basic questions or move in an awkward, clumsy way. Symptoms can start quickly, or they may be delayed and appear over the next day or two.

Concussion Injury Prognosis

For about 9 in 10 people with concussions, symptoms disappear within 7 to 10 days.

Scientists have been working to learn more about those who take longer to recover. In an NIH study, the majority of these children recovered quickly or showed no increase in symptoms. On the other hand, a subgroup of kids, about 10% or 20%, showed a dramatic onset of symptoms after their injury and persistent symptoms that, in some cases, remained 12 months after the injury.

If someone has symptoms of concussion, they shouldn’t try to finish the quarter or finish the game. They need to be taken out of play right away and be seen by a health care provider.

Concussion Rehabilitation

The physiotherapists at Mississauga Ortho Neuro Physiocare have special vestibular and concussion rehabilitation training to help patients achieve a safe and optimal recovery (optimal does not necessarily mean fast).

No two concussion injuries are the same. Different areas of the brain may be involved, so your physiotherapist will perform a thorough evaluation of your neurological system, musculoskeletal system, and balance systems.

Treatment may include:

Rest and recovery – patients with concussions often need to rest their brain and body during the recovery process. This includes a personalized and closely monitored program to limit physical, thinking, and remembering activities to avoid worsening symptoms. Proper sleep hygiene (sleep habits) are also very important. The specialists at Mississauga Ortho Neuro Physiocare can help with education to help you get a better night’s rest.

Restoring strength and endurance – too much rest can quickly lead to deconditioning of your body. In other words, too much rest after a concussion could cause you to “get out of shape”. Our trained clinicians will prescribe a graded neuromuscular and endurance training program to help you get back to daily activities and/or sporting events.

Stopping dizziness and improving balance – dizziness is a common symptom after a concussion. It may be due to injury to the vestibular system. We may be able to help reduce or even eliminate dizziness and associated balance problems with specialized treatment and training techniques that may include:

  • Stretches
  • Strength and motion exercises
  • Eye exercises
  • Hands-on techniques
  • The use of specialized balance devices

Return to Sport and Normal Daily Activities – it’s important to add the appropriate level of exercises and functional activities gradually because too much stimulation may cause the symptoms to TEMPORARILY worsen.

With a proper assessment and a closely monitored treatment program, most patients will fully recover with minimal residual deficits. It is very important to follow your concussion injury rehabilitation specialist's instructions.

For more information about our Brampton Concussion Rehabilitation Program, call us today at (905) 848-0060.

References:

  1. ChoosePT Guide: Physical Therapy Guide to Concussion
  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Brain Injury Basics