A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that results when the brain is rapidly shaken inside the skull. The abrupt and forceful movement can damage the blood vessels in the brain or cause injury to the brain itself. This potentially devastating condition is common in car accidents and in sports, particularly in football, rugby, hockey, and soccer.
Statistics reveal that 2.87 million people were either killed or hospitalized due to traumatic brain injury, many of whom suffered from a concussion. However, the more pressing issue is the fact that perhaps as high as 50% go either unreported or undetected. Concussions are dubbed as an ‘invisible injury’ because its symptoms are not always evident, and even MRI imaging is not infallible at identifying them.
Some people have the misconception that concussions only occur if you pass out. But the truth is nine out of ten concussions won’t render you unconscious, and some only cause a brief disruption in mental alertness. It is therefore, imperative to seek immediate medical attention whenever trauma to the head is involved. While the initial diagnostic assessment is often performed by a physician, typically in a hospital setting, patients dealing with obvious symptoms will benefit from chiropractic care.
Dealing with a Concussion
At PhysioCore, we often point out that the first ten days are crucial for patients who suffered a concussion. Most patients, approximately 80-90%, typically recover within 3-10 days, although some may require 2-4 weeks of treatment. It is also important to note that the risk of suffering another concussion – the so-called “second impact syndrome” -rises significantly every time you sustain one.
This second traumatic incident may involve a minor collision involving the face or head, the shoulder, and the upper trunk, and it will cause additional symptoms that are worse than the initial concussion. If you can protect yourself within the 10-14 days following the first concussion, you will have better odds of attaining full recovery.
Signs and Symptoms
The effective treatment of a concussion begins with recognizing the signs and symptoms. Many do not manifest immediate symptoms, but you will generally notice some of the following symptoms within 72 hours after the initial trauma:
- Head Pressure
- Blurry Vision
- Sensitivity to Noise or Light
- Slurred Speech
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Confusion or Mental Fogginess
- Dizziness or Unsteadiness
- Nausea and/or Vomiting
- Lack of Concentration
- Slowed Reaction Time
- Irritability, Moodiness, Sadness or Nervousness
- Extreme sleepiness or difficulty falling asleep or remaining asleep
- Memory loss, particularly surrounding the event that caused the injury
Physiotherapist Role and Treatment
Physiotherapists play an integral role in multidisciplinary concussion treatment. With their rigorous training, licensed physiotherapists can leverage their skill sets to effectively manage concussions through clinical-based treatment and rehabilitation.
From preliminary evaluation, patient education to time management, immediate access to a multidisciplinary care team can help to speed up the recovery process. Physiotherapy is indicated and has proven effective when a headache, dizziness, neck dysfunction, impaired balance or coordination, and other symptoms have a cervical spine and/or vestibular involvement.
Physiotherapy interventions for impairments of the cervical spine may include neuromotor retraining, sensorimotor retraining, soft tissue techniques, and manual therapy. As for vestibular rehabilitation, it has been shown to be highly effective in the treatment of vertigo, balance, and gait dysfunction. Techniques may include adaptation, habituation, canalith repositioning maneuvers, as well as standing and dynamic balance retraining.
Our physiotherapists at PhysioCore may also prescribe home program activities, including eye/head coordination, balance, and ambulation exercises.
Chiropractor Role and Treatment
For a suspected concussion, your first stop would likely be at a physician’s clinic or an emergency room, but a doctor of chiropractic can help with most aspects of care, from initial evaluation to treatment, especially long-term management.
Traditional medicine concentrates on two facets of concussion: prevention and management of symptoms. But when it comes to chiropractic care, we take the treatment process a step further by resolving the peripheral issues caused by the concussion. Instead of simply using analgesics to quell headaches or anti-inflammatories to ease muscle pain, we get to the root cause of the problem, which is often a dysfunction of the nervous or musculoskeletal systems.
Initial Visit – What to Expect
This is the time when you will meet your physiotherapist and/or chiropractor. You will be able to learn more about the nature of your condition and how our team can help you on your way to recovery. You will be asked about your medical history, any medications that you may be taking, and the symptoms that you are experiencing.
As part of your initial visit, you will undergo a thorough medical examination. This applies to all new patients and may include everything from manual muscle testing, range of motion assessment to laboratory testing. With a suspected concussion in play, you may also be subjected to neurological tests to ascertain the extent of your symptoms and determine issues that you may have failed to notice on your own.
A concussion is a severe injury to the brain, and its symptoms vary significantly from person to person. Education and a strong determination to return to your daily activities are among the best ways to overcome the detrimental effects of concussion. This entails a committed approach from the appropriate healthcare team, along with friends and family.
If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion, feel free to visit us at our PhysioCore clinic, and you will receive the benefits of both physiotherapy and chiropractic care. Our multi-disciplinary injury rehab centre boasts the latest modalities and some of the most seasoned and highly trained medical practitioners in Ontario.