A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury most often caused by a blow to the head, face, or neck. Football and soccer are some of the sports where concussions occur most prevalently, and it is very important that they are diagnosed and treated properly. If you suspect you have sustained a concussion it is best to play it safe and get checked out.
Signs and Symptoms
Common signs and symptoms of a concussion include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Changes in vision or hearing
- Balance problems
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Mood changes and irritability
- Trouble falling asleep
- Cognitive changes – confusion, feeling “in a fog”, memory problems, difficulty concentrating
What to do if a concussion has been sustained during an athletic event:
- First of all, if a concussion is suspected DO NOT allow the athlete to return to the sporting event or practice.
- If there was any loss of consciousness or an altered state of consciousness, see a doctor immediately.
- Do not take pain relievers like aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications.
- Let the athlete rest until symptoms are resolved – rest should include taking a break from any screen time for a couple of days.
- Work with your school’s team physician or athletic trainer and follow a gradual return to sport protocol.
What to do if a concussion has been sustained in a non-athletic event:
- If a concussion is suspected as a result of a blow to the head or a motor vehicle accident and there is any type of loss of consciousness or altered state of consciousness see a doctor immediately.
- Do not take pain relievers such as aspirin or other anti-inflammatory medications
- Rest as needed from work or other activities until symptoms subside. This rest should also include taking a break from screen time for a couple of days.
- If symptoms persist past 2 weeks, consider seeing a physical therapist for help during your recovery.
This syndrome is used to describe concussion symptoms such as dizziness or headache that persist for weeks or months past the initial incident.
Second Impact Syndrome
This is a very devastating but preventable complication of a concussion. It occurs when a second concussion is sustained while the brain is still recovering from the first. It usually results in severe brain damage and deficits or death. Research suggests in cases of second impact syndrome there is a 100% chance of brain damage and a 50% chance of death.
How Can Physical Therapy Help?
Since no two concussions are the same and all concussions present differently in each person, your physical therapist will take the time to examine you and your symptoms. Depending on the presentation, treatment may include a combination of rest, gradual return to activity as tolerated, and strengthening. If you have persistent dizziness treatment may even include vestibular rehabilitation which focuses on how your vision and inner ear function coordinate with the brain to provide you with a sense of balance. If you have had a concussion or have questions about how physical therapy can help schedule a free screen with one of our physical therapists to learn more.
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