So you’ve bumped your head during a soccer game and now have a concussion. What’s next, you may wonder? Well, for the most part, the majority of people recover from a concussion within 7-10 days, however, up to 30% may have symptoms that last longer. How do you deal with these symptoms? Can physiotherapy actually help? Continue reading to discover the answers to these questions and more.
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. It occurs when your brain becomes bruised due to a blow to the head. The brain sits in a fluid-filled area in the skull, when you receive a blow to the head or neck your brain to moves around inside the fluid and bumps into the walls of the skull causing mild bruising. This mild injury is the cause of many symptoms people report following a concussion.
Following a bump, or blow to the head or neck, you may feel the following concussion symptoms:
- Neck pain
- Ringing in the ears
- Brain fog
- Loss of balance
If you are experiencing the symptoms of a concussion, it is important to rest in order for the brain to recover. Days off work and school in addition to limited activities at home are helpful and allow the brain to heal. However, there are studies that have shown that people, especially athletes, benefit from early mild physical activity. The gradual reintroduction of physical and mental activities, as well as work or school, need to be done strategically to prevent setbacks in recovery.
Seeking treatment is key to recovery. Concussions are best managed by a collaborative team of health professionals who address the physical, psychological, social, and cognitive issues that occur. Treatment options that have shown to be beneficial include:
- Retraining the inner ear balance system called the vestibular system
- Exercises that train your visual system
- Manual Therapy on the neck to help with headaches
- Exercises that target deep muscles in the neck
- Cardiovascular exercises
Your physiotherapist will determine what combination of exercises and therapies would be best for your case. It is important to remember to follow the physiotherapist’s instructions on the duration of home exercises and not try to overshoot treatment goals in an attempt to accelerate healing. It is also important to communicate with your physiotherapist if you notice that exercises are causing you to have any symptoms. In the case of a concussion, as is the case for many injuries, slow and steady progress is the safest way towards recovery.
Physiotherapy for Concussion Management
It is critical to ensure that proper medical follow-ups and physiotherapy consultations are conducted to prevent persistent symptoms. Over 1.6-3.8 million individuals suffer from concussions each year in the US. Many of these individuals return to sport too quickly and do not receive proper treatment. This can lead to symptoms being prolonged for greater than 2 weeks. Seeking the care and guidance of a qualified physiotherapist can prevent prolonged concussion symptoms and help you return to function faster.
Book an appointment now to be assessed by a registered physiotherapist who will develop a treatment plan that addresses your specific needs and help you get back to your baseline level of activities.
Ellis, M., Leddy, J. and Willer, B. (2014). Physiological, vestibulo-ocular and cervicogenic post-concussion disorders: An evidence-based classification system with directions for treatment. Brain Injury, 29(2), pp.238-248.
Schneider, K., Meeuwisse, W., Nettel-Aguirre, A., Barlow, K., Boyd, L., Kang, J. and Emery, C. (2014). Cervicovestibular rehabilitation in sport-related concussion: a randomised controlled trial. British Journal of Sports Medicine, 48(17), pp.1294-1298.
Fowler Kennedy Group (2017). [online] Available at: http://www.fowlerkennedy.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/02/Post-Concussion-Treatment-Guidelines.pdf.