What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) caused by a rapid acceleration or deceleration of the brain in the skull leading to changes in cellular function within the brain. Mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) can result from a blow, bump, or jolt to the head or body and  result in a variety of symptoms including headache, nausea, confusion, neck pain or dizziness.

What are symptoms of a concussion?

It is important to note that after sustaining a concussion, symptoms may not immediately show up and people who are suspected of sustaining a head injury should be closely supervised for the appearance of new symptoms. The symptoms of a concussion can be wide ranging with the most common listed below.

  • Headache
  • Neck Pain
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Feeling tired, “not right”, or emotional
  • Confusion
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Irritability
  • Sensitivity to light or noise

A person does not have to lose consciousness to sustain a mTBI. In fact, about 90% of concussions occur without a loss of consciousness.

When should a person be evaluated by a medical professional?

Following a suspected concussion a person should be moved to a safe area and evaluated by a healthcare professional. Healthcare professionals that can help with the diagnosis of a concussion include physical therapists, athletic trainers, nurses, PA’s and physicians. A player should NOT be returned to play on that same day. After sustaining a concussion, a person should be monitored for worsening symptoms and seek emergency medical attention if any of the below signs/symptoms are observed

  • Vomiting
  • Seizure
  • Memory Loss
  • A headache “like no other”
  • Fluid or blood coming from the ears, nose or mouth
  • Slurring of speech
  • Numbness or tingling in the arms or legs
  • Increasing irritability or unusual behavior
  • Loss of consciousness

How long does it take to recover from a concussion?

Most mTBI symptoms tend to resolve in 7-10 days. It is typically recommended to reduce the intensity of mental and physical activity for 24-48 hrs following a concussion then gradually return to activity as symptoms allow. However, this should be determined on a case by case basis by a licensed healthcare professional. Symptoms lasting longer than a few weeks are often referred to as “post-concussion syndrome” and may warrant further medical evaluation.

How can Physical Therapy help with concussion related symptoms?

Every head injury is different and therefore requires a different treatment approach. The Physical Therapists and Optimal Sports Physical Therapy will assess your orthopedic, neurological, and cardiovascular systems in order to prescribe a plan that fits your particular needs. Commonly, interventions will focus on restoring strength and endurance, reducing dizziness, reducing headaches, improving balance, and safely progressing your return to daily activities.

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