A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that usually occurs after a blow or jolt to the head. It can cause temporary symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and confusion.

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Your Guide to Understanding Concussion

What is Concussion?

A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the brain experiences a sudden jolt or impact. It is commonly caused by a blow to the head, but can also result from a forceful shaking of the head or body. Concussions can happen during sports activities, falls, vehicle accidents, or any situation where the head is subjected to a significant impact.

When a concussion occurs, the brain is temporarily disrupted from its normal functioning. Although there may not be any visible signs of injury, the effects can be significant. Common symptoms of a concussion include headaches, dizziness, confusion, memory problems, difficulty concentrating, and sensitivity to light and noise. In some cases, individuals may experience nausea, vomiting, and changes in sleep patterns.

How can Physiotherapy help treat Concussion?

Physiotherapy services offer a unique approach to alleviate the symptoms of a concussion. Physiotherapists play a crucial role in the management and rehabilitation of individuals with concussions. They focus on addressing the physical impairments and functional limitations that arise from a concussion, such as balance issues, visual disturbances, and neck pain. Through specialized techniques like vestibular rehabilitation therapy, they can help improve balance and reduce dizziness.

Additionally, physiotherapists may provide exercises to strengthen the neck muscles, which can help alleviate headaches and neck pain associated with concussions. They also play a role in gradually reintroducing physical activity and guiding patients through a safe and gradual return to sports or daily activities. By taking a comprehensive approach, physiotherapy can effectively aid in the recovery and alleviate the symptoms of a concussion.

What causes Concussion?

Concussions are typically caused by a sudden jolt or impact to the head. This can happen in various ways, such as during sports activities when a player collides with another player or gets hit by an object like a ball or equipment. Falls, vehicle accidents, or any situation where the head experiences a forceful blow or shaking can also lead to concussions.

The impact on the head causes the brain to move and collide with the inside of the skull, resulting in a concussion. It's important to note that concussions can occur even without visible signs of injury to the head. The brain is temporarily disrupted from its normal functioning, which can cause a range of symptoms.

What treatments might help Concussion?

The treatment for a concussion focuses on allowing the brain to recover by providing physical and mental rest. Here are some ways in which treatment can help improve a concussion:

  • Rest: Taking it easy and allowing both the mind and body to rest is crucial during the recovery process. This means minimizing physical exertion, avoiding activities that can strain the brain, and getting proper sleep.
  • Limiting cognitive activity: It's important to avoid tasks that require intense mental concentration, such as reading, studying, or using electronic devices excessively. Giving the brain a break from these activities can aid in recovery.
  • Gradual return to activity: Once symptoms begin to subside, a healthcare professional may recommend gradually reintroducing physical and cognitive activities. This can include light exercise, such as walking, and slowly increasing mental tasks over time.
  • Medications, if necessary: In some cases, medications may be prescribed to manage specific symptoms, such as headaches or sleep disturbances. It's essential to follow the healthcare professional's instructions and only take prescribed medication.
  • Supportive therapies: Certain therapies, such as physical therapy, occupational therapy, or speech therapy, may be recommended to address specific symptoms and aid in recovery.
  • Addressing other health factors: If there are underlying health conditions that could impact concussion recovery, such as sleep disorders or mental health issues, they should be addressed as part of the treatment plan.

Signs of Concussion:

The signs of a concussion can vary from person to person, and they may not always be immediately apparent. It's important to be aware of the following common signs that may indicate a concussion:

  • Headache: A persistent or worsening headache, often described as a pressure or throbbing sensation.
  • Dizziness: Feeling lightheaded, unsteady, or like the room is spinning.
  • Confusion: Difficulty thinking clearly, feeling disoriented, or having trouble remembering recent events.
  • Nausea or vomiting: Feeling sick to the stomach or actually vomiting.
  • Fatigue: Unusual tiredness, lack of energy, or feeling sluggish.
  • Sensitivity to light and sound: Discomfort or increased sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises.
  • Changes in vision: Blurred vision, seeing double, or difficulty focusing.
  • Trouble sleeping: Insomnia, trouble falling asleep, or changes in sleep patterns.
  • Mood changes: Irritability, increased anxiety, sadness, or emotional fluctuations.
  • Loss of consciousness: In some cases, a person may lose consciousness briefly, but it's important to note that loss of consciousness doesn't always occur with a concussion.

Symptoms of Concussion:

The symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person and may not always be immediately noticeable. Here are some common symptoms to watch out for:

  • Headache: Persistent or worsening headache, often described as pressure or aching in the head.
  • Nausea or vomiting: Feeling sick to the stomach or experiencing episodes of vomiting.
  • Dizziness or balance problems: Feeling lightheaded, unsteady, or having trouble maintaining balance.
  • Confusion or disorientation: Difficulty thinking clearly, feeling mentally foggy, or having trouble remembering things.
  • Sensitivity to light and noise: Discomfort or increased sensitivity to bright lights or loud sounds.
  • Fatigue or sleep disturbances: Feeling excessively tired, lacking energy, or experiencing changes in sleep patterns.
  • Blurred vision or visual disturbances: Having trouble focusing, experiencing blurred or double vision.
  • Changes in mood or behavior: Increased irritability, mood swings, anxiety, or feelings of sadness.
  • Memory problems: Difficulty recalling recent events, trouble with concentration and focus.
  • Slowed reaction time: Feeling like your movements or thought processes are slower than usual.
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When is the right time to see a Physiotherapist for Concussion?

The right time to see a physiotherapist for a concussion is typically after receiving a medical evaluation and diagnosis from a healthcare professional, such as a doctor or neurologist. This ensures that any potential serious complications or underlying issues have been addressed.

Once cleared by a healthcare professional, it may be appropriate to seek the expertise of a physiotherapist if you are experiencing persistent symptoms or difficulties associated with the concussion. These symptoms can include headaches, neck pain, balance problems, dizziness, or difficulty concentrating.

Meet our Lead Registered Physiotherapist

Brittany Pereira

Brittany Pereira

Registered Physiotherapist

Registered Physiotherapist with a degree from the University of Toronto

Brittany enjoys working with patients across age groups and backgrounds to help them move better, get stronger, understand their bodies and ultimately, feel more confident. She combines her knowledge and clinical experience to best serve her patients.

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Physiotherapist Brittany Pereira working with client at Anchor Health and Performance Clinic Mississauga
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