Chances are, you won’t be referred to physical therapy during the immediate aftermath of a concussion. It is important to understand your symptoms and work with athletic trainers and physicians to determine the proper diagnosis. Once diagnosed, sometimes rest is the best way to deal with such short-term symptoms as vomiting, confusion, weakness and headaches. But if these problems persist and new ones arise, physical therapy can be helpful.
Long-term symptoms can be quite varied, depending on the nature of your injury, as well as your age and gender. The most common symptoms that people seek PT for concussions include:
- Weight loss or weight gain
- Ongoing headaches
- Loss of balance and frequent falls
- Dizziness and lowered blood pressure
- Muscle weakness and spasms
- Decreased sex drive
- Sudden loss of menstruation
How Physical Therapy Can Help
The natural fatigue and required resting that early concussion recovery entails often results in weakened muscles and lowered endurance. To combat that, your physical therapist will customize a strength-building program for you, as well as guide you through aerobic moves that help you regain that endurance.
Occupational therapy may also be helpful. Your physical therapist will ascertain which daily routines have become challenging, and help you go through the steps of those routines, so that they don’t seem so overwhelming.
Headaches often come with the territory of recovering from concussions. To decrease their frequency, your PT sessions may include targeted massage, specific stretches, and even eye motion “workouts.”
Physical therapy programs for concussion often build in vestibular therapy, which helps you orient yourself during periods of lightheadedness or loss of balance. (Exercises such as fixing your gaze at a certain point in the distance, or using simple movements to stabilize your core and limbs, are invaluable during such moments.)
When you or a loved one need help coping with the emotional and physical toll of a concussion, call our office today. We’ll tailor a recovery program to cope with, and eventually eradicate, these traumatic long-term symptoms.
A concussion is caused by sudden blow or jarring motion to the head or body that disrupts the normal functioning of the brain and can cause significant and possibly permanent neurological impairments. A concussion is the ONLY sports injury that can affect a student athletes personality as well as their ability to learn in school. The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimates that about 300,000 concussions are sustained annually during sports related activities in the United States and out of those, an estimated 62,000 of those concussions are suffered by student athletes. In addition, treatment for concussions related to work, home, or motor vehicle accidents is also available.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that can change the way the brain would normally function. They are often very difficult to diagnose as many signs and symptoms don’t immediately appear. Another difficulty of concussion diagnosis is that many athletes of all ages and abilities are often times reluctant to admit or address the possibility of a concussion because they want to continue participating in their activity or simply because the symptoms are so subtle that both athlete, coach and parent are not even aware there is an issue.
Concussions not only affect athletes, but many concussions occur at home and often go undiagnosed. Car accidents, work accidents, falls, and playground accidents are all common causes of a concussion. Any blow or impact to the head can be serious.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
- Impaired vision, hearing, or smell
- Lack of coordination and balance
- Mood swings (ie. agitation, sadness, or lack of concentration)
- Pain in head, neck and/or shoulders
- Family and friends noticing “Something not right” about the concussed person
Sometimes a concussion may cause a loss of consciousness, but most of the concussion does not cause a loss of consciousness.
What are the emergency symptoms that may indicate a blood clot in the brain?
While rare, a concussion can cause a deadly blood clot to form on the brain, causing it to crowd against the skull. Seek emergency care if you have any of the following symptoms.
- Difficulty with balance and coordination
- Distorted vision
- Overly tired
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Sleep disturbances/insomnia
- Slurred speech
- Staring (glassy eyes)
- Memory loss
- Slowed thinking and communicating
- Difficulty concentrating
- Worsening grades in school
- Decreased stress tolerance
- Depressed mood
- Personality change
- Rapid mood changes
- Chronic headaches and/or dizziness
- Early dementia/chronic traumatic encephalopathy
- Growth problems (children)
- Loss of libido/sex drive
- Loss of menses/menstruation
- Low blood pressure
- Muscle spasticity
- Muscle weakness
- Weight gain
What is Post-Concussion Syndrome?
Post-Concussion Syndrome is a complicated disorder in which a variety of symptoms last for weeks or months after the injury has occurred (usually a blow to the head). Sometimes, symptoms do not appear immediately and comes delayed which makes it very difficult to decide whether is it wise to return to sports after possible ‘concussion” suspicion.
Symptoms usually appear in the first 7-10 days and go away within three months, although they can sometimes last up to a year or for a lifetime. Physical therapy treatments are aimed towards easing symptoms and improve quality of life.