Throughout the United States, it is estimated that more than two million concussions occur each year. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that is caused by either a direct force/blow to the head or a force transmitted through the body to the head. Concussions can be caused by falls and car accidents – or any other situation where the head receives a sudden jolt. Select Physical Therapy’s comprehensive Concussion Management Program offers specially trained experts who provide individualized concussion evaluations and rehabilitation programs for children and adults.
Signs and Symptoms
Concussions typically result in the rapid onset of short-lived impairment of neurological function that resolves spontaneously. However, in some cases, signs and symptoms may evolve over several minutes to hours. The following are common symptoms of concussion:
- Drowsiness (fatigue, forgetful or feels “foggy”)
- Appears dazed, stunned or confused
- Difficulty concentrating/focusing
- Shows imbalance/Moves clumsily
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Blurred vision/Double vision
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
- Answers questions slowly/Slurred speech
If someone suspects that a concussion has occurred, the injured person should stop the activity or sport immediately and be taken to the emergency room or to a physician to assess for other injuries, like a skull fracture, neck injury or bleeding on the brain.
If an individual has sustained a concussion, immediate rest (no activity) is the first and most important step in recovery. A physician will need to determine if the individual can return to activity, school, work or athletics. The time from being symptom-free and resuming activity varies by individual and can be helped significantly through concussion management and rehabilitation.
Post-Concussion Physical Therapy
Most people do not associate physical therapy with recovery from concussions. But working with a physical therapist can be key to fully recovering from a concussive brain injury. Physical therapists can evaluate and treat many problems related to concussion, including problems with balance and dizziness.
If you experience persistent dizziness or difficulty with your balance following a concussion, vestibular physical therapy may help. The vestibular system, which includes the inner ear and its connections with the brain, is responsible for sensing head movement, keeping your eyes focused when you move your head, and helping you keep your balance. A qualified vestibular physical therapist can provide specific exercises and training to reduce or stop dizziness and improve balance and stability.
If you suffer from regular headaches post-concussion, your physical therapist will examine you for neck problems following a concussion. Neck injuries can cause headaches and contribute to some forms of dizziness. Your therapist also can assess your back for possible injuries to your spine.
As symptoms due to concussion improve, your physical therapist will help you resume physical activity gradually, so your body recovers fully from a concussion in the shortest amount of time.