Concussion Management

“Bell Rung”, “Head Dinged”=CONCUSSION or MILD TRAUMATIC BRAIN INJURYConcussion is a brain injury that affects function. It occurs when the brain is shaken inside the skull, causing changes in the brain’s chemistry and energy supply. A concussion might happen as a result of a direct blow to the head or an indirect force, such as whiplash. You might or might not lose consciousness.Recently concussions have received a great deal of attention as people in the medical and sports worlds have begun to speak out about the long-term problems associated with this injury. The Centers for Disease Control estimate that in sports alone, more than 3.8 million concussions occur each year. Recent scientific evidence highlights the need for proper care to prevent complications from concussion.There are many symptoms related to concussion, and they can affect your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.Physical Symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty with sleeping
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light and sound

Cognitive (thinking) symptoms may include:

  • Difficulty with short-term or long-term memory
  • Confusion
  • Slowed “processing” (a decreased ability to think through problems)
  • “Fogginess”
  • Difficulty with concentration

Emotional symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Decreased tolerance of stress

If you think you might have a concussion:

  • Seek medical care immediately
  • Avoid any additional trauma to your head –don’t engage in any activity that carries a risk of head injury.
  • Limit activities of all kinds, including school and work.

How can a Physical Therapist Help?Physical Therapists can evaluate and treat many problems related to concussion. Some Physical Therapists may have training in ImPact which is a program designed to be used as a tool to aid in concussion management. It is a tool to help determine recovery from injury, return to exertion, return to academics, and return to play. It is a tool to help communicate post-concussion status to coaches, parents, and clinicians. It is not a substitute for medical evaluation or treatment. Because no 2 concussions are the same, a physical therapist’s examination is essential to assess the individual symptoms and functional limitations. A Physical Therapist then can design a treatment program that fits the individual needs. Impaired balance, dizziness and headache are just a few problems that a physical therapist can address.   As symptoms and problems due to the concussion improve, a physical therapist can help one resume physical activity gradually, to avoid overloading the brain and nervous system that have been compromised by the concussion.

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