Unless you are immersed in the world of sport or studying the brain many people hear the word concussion and have no idea what it really means, how to spot it or what the ramifications of head injury are to the body.
So what exactly is a concussion – it’s when the brain is violently shaken by a hit to the head or when the bodies position is rapidly changed (whiplash). This causes the brain to move in the head and hitting against the interior walls of the skull. This type of trauma causes unpredictable injury and functional or chemical changes that can occur immediately or be delayed for minutes, hours or even days. Every person will display different symptoms and the damage can range in severity from temporary to permanent and present as physical, mental or emotional in nature. The first step if you believe you have a concussion is to see a doctor who can diagnose and ensure that no severe brain damage such as bleeding or tearing of brain tissue has occurred, however, physiotherapist are also a great resource in terms of recovery.
A physiotherapists/chiropractors role in concussion treatment is to accurately diagnose concussion and to then help the patient with an individualized recovery program that will allow them to safely return to sport, work or daily life. Below is how a therapist will help you recover from your concussion:
- Regaining Strength- due to the rest that is needed to recover from a concussion as well as some of the results of damage there can be a reduction in strength and endurance. A physio or chiro can help you regain strength at a appropriate pace without causing further stress on the body or brain. They will develop a stretch and exercise program that is appropriate for you stage of recovery and monitor you closely.
- Reduce headaches- one of the most common symptoms of concussion is headaches. A physio/chiro will asses the cause of your headaches and reduce them through the use of electrical stimulation, manual techniques, massage, or stretches.
- Regaining balance/coordination- it is not uncommon to experience balance and/or coordination defecits following a concussion. A physiotherapist or chiorpractor will use a combination of exercises and stretches and mobilizations that will help you rebalance your vestibular system in a slow and safe way.
- Return to sport/daily life- While a lot of rest is required to recover properly from a concussion many people are eager to return to work, sports or daily life – a therapists role in this is to asses your body’s readiness to return to these activities without overloading your brain and nervous system. They will assist you in a return to daily life/sport program that will help you gradually return to normal activity without causing more damage or a return of symptoms.
How you can test for concussion:
Signs observed by others
- loses consciousness
- answers questions slowly/lethargic
- clumsy/tripping over feet
- appears dazed/glossy/stunned
- Unsure of simple answers such as date, name, sport, score of game, family names
- Cannot remember what happened before trauma/hit
- Cannot remember what happened after trauma/hit
- Presents with behaviour or personality changes
- trouble staying awake
Signs reported by the patient
- Sensitivity to light/sound
- Double vision/fuzzy vision
- Feel sluggish
- Feel groggy
- trouble concentrating (mental fog)
While it is difficult to predict and therefore prevent concussion in most cases such a motor vehicle accident or in sport there are some precautions that can be taken such as helmets, avoiding risky moves/plays in sport and avoiding distractions while driving. Most importantly, if you have suffered from a concussion ensure that you let someone know and get help right away to avoid second-impact syndrome (suffering another concussion or head injury before the first has completely healed) as this can lead to severe brain injury and even death.
If you or someone you know has suffered from a concussion , we would love to help with the recovery process – give us a call at 905-488-1223 to book a consult!
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Pro Active Health Group offers: Physiotherapy, Massage Therapy, Acupuncture, Chiropractic Care and Custom Orthotics and much more!