What Is A Concussion?
A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) that occurs secondary to an impulsive blow to the head, neck, or body. Concussions interrupt the brain’s regular activity. Common causes of concussions include falls, bike accidents, or sports such as soccer, skiing, or football. Additionally, concussions may come from whiplash injuries following events like a motor vehicle accident.
Recovery from a Concussion
Proper recovery after a concussion is vital in preventing further severe injury and resuming the prior level of function. Recovery can vary based on symptom presentation in each individual. A general guideline may include:
1. Rest: A brief (24-48 hours) physical and cognitive rest period. It is also essential to monitor any changes or increases in the severity of symptoms.
2. Light Activity: It is important to avoid jumping directly back into fierce activity following the initial rest period. Initiate encouragement of gradual, progressive return to action within a few days after concussion. Continue to limit screen time across devices and incorporate a fixed bedtime/wake routine with decreased daytime naps.
3. Moderate Activity: With symptom reduction, increase activity with a regular work or school schedule. You or your child should only take breaks if concussion symptoms worsen or concentration becomes more difficult.
4. Return to Routine: Begin a gradual return to a regular physical activity routine. With sports, recovery should begin with non-contact drills, practice, then games.
● Possible symptoms include: Neck Pain, Cervicogenic Headache, Muscle Imbalance, Impaired Joint Mobility, Impaired Joint Positional Awareness
● Physical therapy can address with hands-on treatment, therapeutic exercise, postural awareness, joint awareness with movement
Vestibular and Vision
● Possible symptoms include: Dizziness or Vertigo, Impaired Gaze Stability, Difficulty Reading, Blurred or Double Vision
● Physical therapy can address with the treatment of vestibular limitations, including BPPV, gaze stabilization, eye exercises such as convergence
Activity Intolerance (Autonomic Dysfunction)
● Possible symptoms include: Orthostatic Hypotension, Difficulty with Exercise and Exertional Tasks
● Physical therapy can address with an introduction to aerobic exercise catered to individualized needs, monitoring vital signs during activity, and giving target ranges to work in
● Possible symptoms include: Difficulty with Posture and Coordination, Imbalance, Dual Tasks Impairments
● Physical therapy can address Return to sports training, Higher level activity, Patient-Specific goals
How Can Physical Therapy Assist in the Recovery Process?
Those believed to have PCS might find it advantageous to receive extra multidisciplinary assistance to effectively resume their work, educational, or athletic activities. Depending on your or your child’s need, a team of medical professionals may include the primary care physician, neurologist, physical therapist, occupational therapist, and speech-language pathologist. Physical therapy can aid in the
recovery process by addressing a variety of associated multi-system orthopedic, neurologic, and cardiovascular impairments. Proper guidance in PCS recovery can allow for an effective and safe return to work, school, and sports without excessive symptom provocation.