Have a concussion? Still experiencing symptoms? Physiotherapy can help!

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:

  • Headaches

  • Dizziness

  • Neck pain

  • Nausea

  • Visual disturbances

  • Difficulty concentrating and trouble thinking clearly

  • Hard time remembering and focusing

  • Sensitivity to light and noise

  • Vision problems (blurred or double vision)

  • Balance problems

  • Ringing in ears

  • Irritable and angry

  • Anxious

  • Sadness

  • 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:

  • Headache management

  • 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

  • Education

  • 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.



References:


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.