Have you recently had an injury to your head?
Do you have trouble with memory or concentration?
Is your vision blurry?
If so, you may have suffered from a concussion.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a hit or jolt to the head, changing the chemical balance of the brain.
Concussion may cause physical, cognitive, or behavioral symptoms, both short and long term.
Any excessive force to the head is considered a concussive event, even when a concussion hasn’t been diagnosed.
Many people recover from a concussive event with rest, and gradually get back to their regular activities.
For others, symptoms can persist.
The good news is that these symptoms may respond well to physical therapy.
Here at Capitol Physical Therapy, we offer physical therapy treatments for concussions.
If you’ve suffered from a concussion, it might be a little frightening, but we can help.
What Is A Concussion
A concussion occurs when your head is violently shaken or involved in a high impact event.
Your soft brain tissue collides with the hard surface of your skull, causing unpredictable injury to any area of the brain.
The result is immediate or delayed changes in the brain’s chemistry and function.
Contrary to popular belief, losing consciousness is rare in a concussion – it happens in less than 10% of cases.
According to statistics from the CDC, concussions are very common, especially among teens. 15% of American high school students reported having experienced a concussion in the previous year.
What Causes A Concussion
A concussion can happen with any rapid movement changes during sport or recreation, during a fall or accident, or from an act of violence.
During a concussive event, a force to the head sends your brain either back and forth or side to side within your skull, which causes damage.
This is called a coup – contracoup event and it affects how your brain functions.
While the vast majority of concussions are fairly mild, in rare cases concussion can also lead to bleeding in and around your brain, which can be fatal.
The problem is that it’s not always easy to tell right away whether a concussion is serious or mild, which is why it’s recommended that anybody who suffers a head injury seek medical attention.
Some common injuries that can cause a concussion include:
- Falls (fall prevention physical therapycan help)
- Sports and running injuries, treatment of which can involve physical therapy
- Car accidents
- Physical abuse
- An injury during military service
It’s also known that having previously had a concussion increases the likelihood that future head injuries will lead to concussion.
Symptoms Of A Concussion
Because a concussion is caused by an injury, it’s fairly unpredictable by nature. As a result, you’ll find a wide variety of symptoms listed below.
Symptoms of a concussion can include:
- Light sensitivity
- Noise sensitivity
- Brain fog
- Decreased energy
- Chronic headaches
- Speech difficulties
- Vision difficulties
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Anxiety or depression
- Mood swings
- Decreased stress tolerance
- A short temper
Complications Of A Concussion
While concussions are fairly common, they’re not something to be taken lightly.
It’s important to seek medical attention for a head injury, no matter how mild it might be.
Even if you feel fine afterwards, your symptoms might not manifest for weeks or even months later.
If left untreated, a concussion can lead to long term symptoms like:
- Loss of libido
- Weight gain
- Menstrual irregularities
- Low blood pressure
- Weakened muscles
- Chronic fatigue
- Early onset dementia
- Developmental delays in children
There are also a couple of more serious complications – find out more below.
Post concussion syndrome is a collection of symptoms that persist for a weeks or months after your concussion.
- Slowed cognitive processing
- Brain fog
- Anxiety and depression
- Mood swings
Having had a previous concussion, you’re much more likely to have another one.
And if you do, it can be more serious.
Second impact syndrome can lead to complications like:
- Difficulty walking
- A learning disability
- A nerve disorder
- Other neurological issues
Beyond this, suffering a concussion before the first has fully healed leads to about a 50% chance of death.
How Does Physical Therapy Diagnose Concussion?
Diagnosing a concussion is difficult, since there are no tests that can conclusively point to it having occurred.
Instead, your physical therapist will diagnose based on your symptoms.
As well, they’ll test for things like:
- Muscle strength
- Balance issues
- Vision, hearing, and smell
- Muscle coordination
How To Avoid Concussion
Establishing a baseline of your neurological health can help prevent injury by identifying pre existing risk factors.
Your healthcare provider can administer a series of tests to assess your vestibular and visual condition, balance, and impact to determine if you’re at risk.
This gives us a road map for faster, safer recovery in the event of an injury.
The most important way to protect against a concussion, however, is to use proper protection when engaging in high risk activities.
Wear a helmet when riding your bike, at work in a hazardous environment, or while playing sports with a higher risk of injury.
How Can Physical Therapy For Concussions Help?
If you’ve experienced a concussion, or you think you may have, physical therapy can help.
Let’s take a look at how.
Your body does its best healing work while you’re resting.
If you’ve recently suffered a concussion, rest and clear your schedule of any sport or physical activity until your condition’s been assessed and a recovery program is in place for you.
Try to limit daily activity like work, school, and the use of electronics.
The vestibular system, which includes the inner ear and its connections with the brain, helps to keep your balance and prevent dizziness.
If you’re experiencing balance issues after a concussion, it’s often a result of issues with your vestibular system.
Vestibular physical therapy for balance can help.
Using a variety of different vestibular therapy treatments, your physical therapist can help you manage your symptoms and keep you vertical.
If you’re experiencing chronic headaches as a result of a concussion, physical therapy can help.
Depending on the nature of your headaches, your physical therapist may use a variety of different treatments, including therapeutic massage or TENS, as well as stretches and motion exercises.
The goal of concussion recovery is to help you return to healthy levels of activity as safely as possible.
It’s important to follow your recovery plan and stay diligent with your strength building exercises.
If you’re not active during your recovery, you may prolong your healing unnecessarily.
Just because you’re in recovery, doesn’t mean your conditioning and sport readiness has to suffer.
Whether you’re an athlete, professional or amateur, or you work in a physically demanding job, physical therapy can help you return when it’s healthy for you to do so.
By working with a physical therapist and following your recovery plan, you’ll be able to safely add physical activities back into your daily routine.
It’s important to disclose your entire medical health history to your physical therapist.
Depending on previous injuries or medical conditions you may have, it may take longer for you to recover.
Your physical therapist will help you avoid overloading the brain and nervous system as you increase your activity level.
Book Your Appointment With Capitol Physical Therapy Today
If you’re dealing with symptoms of a concussion, don’t leave your recovery up to chance.
At Capitol Physical Therapy, we are specially trained to assess and manage concussions using a framework that considers the needs of dedicated athletes.
Contact Capitol Physical Therapy today to explore the options available to help you heal.