Concussion Treatment – Physiotherapy For Head Injury
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or by a violent shaking of the head and upper body. Concussions can be caused by a variety of events, including falls, motor vehicle accidents, sports injuries, and violence. They can range in severity from mild to severe, and symptoms may vary depending on the individual and the specific injury. Concussion symptoms may include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Light sensitivity
- Noise sensitivity
- Balance problems
- Difficulty concentrating
- Memory problems
- Mood changes
What Happens to the Brain?
During a concussion, the brain is subjected to a sudden, violent force, which can cause the brain to shift inside the skull and stretch and tear the brain’s connecting tissues. This can cause a disruption in the normal functioning of the brain and result in concussion symptoms such as those described above.
Multiple concussions or severe concussions can lead to long-term problems, such as chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease that has been linked to repeated head injuries. It is therefore important to take concussions seriously and to seek medical attention as soon as possible if you suspect that you or someone you know may have sustained a concussion.
The exact mechanisms by which concussions cause these symptoms are not fully understood, but it is thought that they may be related to changes in the brain’s metabolism and blood flow, as well as to the release of certain chemicals in the brain. These changes can affect the brain’s ability to function normally and may cause a variety of concussion symptoms.
There are several ways that a healthcare provider may diagnose a concussion, including:
- Physical examination: The healthcare provider will examine the patient for signs of a concussion, such as bruising or swelling around the head, abnormal pupil size or responsiveness, and any other injuries.
- Neurocognitive testing: The healthcare provider may use tests to evaluate the patient’s cognitive function, such as memory and concentration.
- Balance and coordination testing: The healthcare provider may use tests to assess the patient’s balance and coordination.
- Neuroimaging: The healthcare provider may order imaging tests, such as a CT scan or an MRI, to look for any physical changes in the brain.
- Self-report: The healthcare provider may ask the patient about their symptoms and about the circumstances surrounding the injury.This is to tease out signs of concussion.
It is important to note that a concussion can be difficult to diagnose, as the symptoms may not always be immediately apparent.
Types & Signs of Concussion
There are several different types of concussion, including:
- Mild concussion: A mild concussion, also known as a Grade 1 concussion, is the most common type of concussion. Symptoms of a mild concussion may include headache, dizziness, and difficulty concentrating, and may resolve within a few days to a week.
- Moderate concussion: A moderate concussion, also known as a Grade 2 concussion, is less common than a mild concussion. Symptoms of a moderate concussion may include headache, dizziness, nausea, and confusion, and may last for a week or longer.
- Severe concussion: A severe concussion, also known as a Grade 3 concussion, is the least common type of concussion. Symptoms of a severe concussion may include loss of consciousness, confusion, and amnesia, and may last for a week or longer.
The severity of a concussion is not necessarily related to the severity of the initial injury. A concussion can be mild, even if the injury was severe, and vice versa. The severity is based on the symptoms that the patient experiences and the length of time it takes for those symptoms to resolve. Either way, it’s important to be 1) aware of the signs of concussion and 2) ready to begin concussion treatment as soon as possible.
The treatment and rehabilitation for a concussion will depend on the severity of the injury and the individual needs of the patient. In general, the main goals of concussion treatment and rehabilitation are to:
- Relieve concussion symptoms and manage pain
- Promote healing and recovery
- Prevent further injury
Different Types of Concussion Treatment
Concussion treatment may include:
- Rest: It is important to allow the brain to rest and recover after a concussion, so it is usually recommended that the patient get plenty of rest and avoid activities that could worsen their symptoms.
- Medications: The healthcare provider may prescribe medications to help manage symptoms such as headache and dizziness.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy may be recommended to help the patient regain their strength and coordination.
- Cognitive therapy: Cognitive therapy may be recommended to help the patient with any cognitive or behavioral issues that may have arisen as a result of the concussion.
- Return to normal activities: The patient will typically be advised to gradually return to their normal activities as their symptoms allow. This may include returning to work or school, as well as participating in leisure activities.
Concussion treatment for a professional athlete will generally follow the same principles as concussion treatment for any other individual. The main goals of treatment will be to relieve symptoms, promote healing and recovery, and prevent further injury. However, there may be some differences in the treatment and rehabilitation process for a professional athlete, depending on the athlete’s specific needs and the demands of their sport. For example:
- Rest: It may be necessary for the athlete to take a break from their sport in order to allow their brain to heal and recover. The length of time that the athlete needs to take off will depend on the severity of the concussion and the athlete’s individual circumstances.
- Medications: The athlete may be prescribed medications to help manage symptoms such as headache and dizziness.
- Physical therapy: Physical therapy may be used to help the athlete regain their strength and coordination. This may involve exercises to improve balance, coordination, and endurance.
- Cognitive therapy: Cognitive therapy may be recommended to help the athlete with any cognitive or behavioral issues that may have arisen as a result of the concussion.
- Return to sport: The athlete will typically be advised to gradually return to their sport as their symptoms allow. This may involve a progressive return to activity program, in which the athlete starts with light exercise and gradually increases the intensity and duration of their activity as their symptoms permit.
Physiotherapy for a concussion may involve a variety of techniques and exercises to help the patient recover from their injury and regain their strength and function. The specific types of physiotherapy that are used will depend on the individual needs of the patient, signs of concussion, and the severity of the concussion. Some common techniques and exercises that may be used in physiotherapy for a concussion include:
- Balance and coordination exercises: These exercises may help to improve balance, coordination, and proprioception (awareness of the body’s position in space).
- Strength training exercises: These exercises may be used to help the patient regain muscle strength and endurance.
- Aerobic exercise: Low-impact aerobic exercise, such as walking or cycling, may be recommended to help the patient improve their cardiovascular fitness and tolerance for activity.
- Vestibular rehabilitation: This may be recommended to help the patient with any vestibular (inner ear) issues that may have arisen as a result of the concussion.
- Soft tissue mobilization: This may be used to help improve mobility and flexibility in the neck and other affected areas.