What is a concussion?
A concussion is an acute neurophysiological effect, blunt trauma or any mechanism of energy applied to the neck. A concussion can be caused by a direct or indirect force and can occur during a sports related injury or motor vehicle accident (MVA). MVA related concussions often have different presentations and treatment outcomes.
Concussion Symptoms: What to watch out for
There is no single test to diagnose a concussion and signs and symptoms vary between individuals. Concussions are complex injuries and recovery is unique for every individual.
"A direct hit to the head or loss of consciousness does NOT have to occur to cause a concussion"
Dangerous Symptoms - Immediatly Post Concussion
Here are some danger signs to watch out for immediately after a suspected head trauma or concussion. It is important the players, coaches, family and friends are aware of these danger signs and if noticed in an individual that they are immediately taken to the emergency room:
- One pupil larger than the other.
- Convulsions or seizures.
- Cannot recognize people or places.
- Has unusual behavior.
- Loses consciousness
- Headache that gets worse
- Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination.
- Vomiting or nausea.
- Slurred speech.
General Concussion Symptoms
After a concussion occurs, the individual will experience a variety of symptoms that effect different systems of the body. The mechanism of each concussion injury is unique and therefor the presentation of symptoms will be unique for each individual
"Concussions are highly complex injuries, that require specific expertise"
Below are some general symptoms that people with concussions generally experience. There are different grades of concussion depending on the severity, therefor symptoms will vary highly in occurance and severity.
What does physiotherapy concussion treatment look like?
Our team of physiotherapists can help individuals with a concussion by providing a complete assessment of their symptoms including evaluating the function of the oculomotor system, vestibular system, cervical movement, and neurophysiological system. Our concussion specialists on our physiotherapy team will determine the type of headaches or nature of symptom presentation in order to refer patients to, and work with the appropriate specialists within our referral network.
Physiotherapist’s create an individualized treatment plan for each patient as well as provide patient education on the management of their concussion symptoms in daily life. Additionally, working with a physiotherapist post concussion can help you safety prepare to return to sport or exercise a minimize risk for long term damage to the brain.
The importance of rest:
24-72 hours after a concussion occurs, rest is highly important. New research in concussion management is constantly understanding the mechanisms of concussions better and establishing a better understanding of how much and what type of rest is needed after concussion. No longer is a dark room the standard treatment for concussions. Since concussions are highly individualized, each recovery protocol will be different, contact us if you believe you or a family member/friend has suffered a concussion and we will get you in touch with our specialists to create a treatment plan.
What does physiotherapy for concussions look like?
Physiotherapy for concussions will begin with a complete consultation that may take several sessions to understand the mechanism of your injury and evaluate your symptoms. Our physiotherapists may refer you to see other specialists depending on the results of your assessment. They will then create an individualized treatment plan that may include:
- Manual therapy for your neck
- Balance Training
- Vestibular System Training
- Oculomotor (vision) training
- Neck exercises
- Highly controlled graduated return to exercise program
- Patient Education on symptom management and rest
WestcoastSCI Clinical Specialists
Jack Liney (Bsc. Physiotherapy, FD Health and Rehabilitation Sciences)
Jack is a specialist in Vestibular Rehabilitation. He has extensive clinical experience working with concussion patients, stroke, benign paroxysmal positioning vertigo and migraine patients.
Patrick O’Flaherty (Bsc. Physiotherapy, Masters Rehabilitation Sciences Candidate)
Patrick has extensive clinical experience working with the acute and long term recovery of concussions. He is currently completing his masters in concussion and mild traumatic brain injury at UBC with an additional specialization in neuroplasticity.