By: Erlyn Fletcher-Roy, BScKin, MSc Physiotherapy Candidate
A concussion is a brain injury from a hit to the head, neck, face, or somewhere else on the body that makes the brain move quickly inside the skull. It can happen from falling, being in a motor vehicle accident, playing sports, or being hit by an object or person. Having a concussion can impact a person’s quality of life and their ability to participate in work or school, playing sports, and day-to-day activities.
Over 160,000 Canadians experience acquired brain injury annually, with mild traumatic brain injuries and concussions being the largest proportion.
Common Signs of Concussion:
Difficulty concentrating and trouble thinking clearly
Hard time remembering and focusing
Sensitivity to light and noise
Vision problems (blurred or double vision)
Ringing in ears
Irritable and angry
Changes in sleeping patterns
Although most people who sustain an acute concussion recover within 10-14 days, there are some people who continue to experience persistent symptoms for weeks, months, and even years after the initial brain injury. These persistent symptoms are known as a condition called post-concussion syndrome. The persistence of these symptoms can leave patients frustrated and searching for other options.
According to the International Concussion Society, 29% of people who have had a concussion say they've suffered long-term effects, most commonly headaches.
40% of athletes with concussions return to play before they should, putting them at risk for additional injury (International Concussion Society, 2021).
For many years, the medical advice after a concussion was to spend time in dark, quiet rooms. While rest and sleep are critical after a concussion, more recent evidence has shown it is not the most effective way to recover. Gradual return to activities of daily living, followed by graded return to school, work, and sport is now recognized as the gold standard of post-concussion care. Concussions, like other sport injuries, should be rehabilitated and specialized healthcare professionals can help guide you through the management of the injury.
Physiotherapy has been used to treat post-concussion symptoms and help manage return-to-sport protocol. Assessments may include a detailed history of the concussion and symptoms, cognitive screen, balance assessment, and neurological screen. Physiotherapists then can provide individualized treatment plans with a variety of strategies to help treat the person’s symptoms and identified areas from the assessment. Treatment interventions may include exercises, manual therapy, vestibular treatment, vision therapy, and education.
A physiotherapist can help with:
Strengthening neck muscles
Manual therapy to help ensure mobility of the joints and surrounding soft tissue
Static and dynamic balance training
Ocular reflex training
Specific vestibular and dizziness treatments
Cardiovascular exercise prescription
Concussion Services Available at K-TOWN Physiotherapy:
Rehabilitation for Post-Concussion Syndrome
Exercise prescription and training programs
All concussion care at K-TOWN Physiotherapy is provided by certified physiotherapists who have extensive training in treating concussion symptoms. Our physiotherapists are equipped to assess and design a treatment plan individualized to your experience and symptoms of your concussion.
Canadian Physiotherapy Association. (2022). Concussion and Physiotherapy: What do we know and where do we need to go? Retrieved January 7, 2022, from https://physiotherapy.ca/concussion-and-physiotherapy-what-do-we-know-and-where-do-we-need-go
CDC. (2021, May 12). Symptoms of Mild TBI and Concussion. Retrieved January 7, 2022, from https://www.cdc.gov/traumaticbraininjury/concussion/symptoms.html
International Concussion Society. (2021). Concussion Resources & Facts. Retrieved January 7, 2022, from https://www.concussion.org/concussion-resources/
Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation. (2021, January 12). Patient Resources. Retrieved January 7, 2022, from https://onf.org/knowledge-mobilization/acquired-brain-injury/patient-resources/ https://concussionsontario.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ONF-Concussion-Booklet-Web-Feedback-link.pdf
Physiotherapy Alberta College + Association. (2019). Concussion Management: A Toolkit for Physiotherapists. Retrieved January 7, 2022, from https://www.physiotherapyalberta.ca/xchange/continuing_professional_development/elearning_center/concussion_management_a_toolkit_for_physiotherapists/
Schneider, K. J. (2019). Concussion part II: Rehabilitation – The need for a multifaceted approach. Musculoskeletal Science and Practice, 42, 151-161. doi:10.1016/j.msksp.2019.01.006.