A concussion is a head injury that interrupts brain functioning. Symptoms of a concussion vary, but can include headaches, balance issues, memory problems, and difficulty concentrating on tasks. Most concussions are caused by a sharp, forceful blow to the head. This could be an accident or other traumatic event. A concussion can sometimes cause loss of consciousness. In most cases, you remain alert after a concussion even though your brain may be impaired.
Falling is the most common cause of concussions. This happens frequently in sports, such as football or soccer. But fortunately, a majority of patients return to normal after an episode with no long-term damage.
What is a concussion and how does it happen?
A concussion is a head injury that interrupts brain functioning. It can affect the way you think, feel and move. If it’s not taken seriously from the beginning, a concussion can lead to long-term problems like memory loss, thinking difficulties or slowed learning ability.
The good news: most improve within days or weeks; others take months to heal. But in some cases, symptoms last longer—for even years after the initial injury! For these patients, multiple concussions increase their risk for serious long-term complications.
It’s important to recognize concussion early and take steps to heal properly. The Specialized Physical Therapy Concussion Program helps patients recover from traumatic brain injuries, including concussions and sports-related head injuries. Specialized also educates them about their condition so they can safely return to the activities they love.
The Specialized concussion program is designed for individuals and athletes of all ages and ability levels—from competitive school children to professional athletes to the older adult, Specialized is ready to help! The experts at Specialized Physical Therapy develop custom treatment plans that are tailored specifically to individual needs.
Learn more about Specialized Physical Therapy. Specialized is accepting new patients in Cherry Hill and Burlington Monday thru Fridays.
Call (856) 424-0993 (Cherry Hill Physical Therapy) or 609-880-0880 (Burlington Physical Therapy) to schedule a consultation.
How can you tell if someone has a concussion?
When someone experiences a head injury it can be a pretty nerve racking event. The first thing you should do is assess the injured parties airway, breathing and circulation. If they are able to maintain their own airway (breathing) and have a pulse (circulation), safety comes first. You never want to move someone who has suffered a head injury if they are unable to maintain their own airway or show any other sign of altered level of consciousness (LOC).
Signs and symptoms of a concussion
The signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary from a mild bump to the head that causes only a brief change in mental status or consciousness, to more serious brain injuries that cause prolonged changes in mental state. Specialized PT recommends looking for any of these symptoms after your patient suffers a head injury:
- lack of responsiveness and awareness (e.g.,can’t answer questions appropriately)
- loss of memory about the event leading up to the injury, duration of unconsciousness or amnesia
- confusion and disorientation
- headache nausea or vomiting
- dizziness/balance problems
- tingling in arms and legs
- feeling “foggy”
- dazed or groggy
- difficulty thinking clearly
- slurred speech
- unusual behavior or mood
These symptoms may lessen and then return over several days. Specialized PT recommends returning to your normal activities slowly. We also recommend that you avoid any sports-related activity until all signs and symptoms have resolved. You should not drive a car after the injury until cleared by your physician or physical therapist, and avoiding alcohol is recommended for 24 hours because it can mask the early symptoms of a concussion.
Recovery times vary from person to person. Your patients’ recovery depends upon how severe the concussion is, how well they take care of themselves during recovery and how soon they begin to return to their normal activities. Specialized PT recommends you give yourself at least one week after your head injury to fully recover, and Specialized PT strongly recommends that you should not return to school or work until cleared by your physician and/or physical therapist.
Why is the brain so susceptible to concussions?
The brain is the control center of the body. We have been blessed with our bodies’ abilities to experience a wide variety of feelings, emotions and sensations. Concussions are caused by either sudden trauma or repeated blows to the head that causes the brain to move back and forth inside the skull, resulting in damage to nerve cells and blood vessels in the brain as well as stretching and tearing of nerve fibers.
When to seek medical attention for a possible concussion?
Go to the emergency room if you display any of these signs:
- loss of consciousness or being dazed vomiting,
- no response after being tapped lightly on the shoulder or shouted at while lying face down; no response means not reacting even though eyes are open (unresponsive)
- sudden headache with blurred vision
Specialized Physical Therapy strongly recommends that you seek medical attention for more severe head injuries involving loss of consciousness, repeated vomiting, convulsions or seizures.
Treatment for concussions
Specialized Physical Therapy’s care is centered on improving brain function. A careful assessment of symptoms and performance is completed by specialized physical therapists, who then design a customized rehabilitation program for each patient.
These programs may include medications, activity modifications and specialized exercises to promote healing of the injured areas in the brain and improve return of normal mental functioning.
The specialized staff will provide education about concussions that you can share with your patients’ parents and coaches because they are an integral part of your patient’s recovery process, as well.
Recovery time from a mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) or concussion
The recovery time following a concussion can range from just a few days to several months. Recovery depends upon how severe the concussion is, your patients’ age and whether it’s their first or more than one MTBI. In most cases, specialized physical therapy will be needed because you must work your way back into an active lifestyle gradually.
Mild concussions can cause immediate symptoms that last for only a few minutes up to 24 hours, while more severe injuries may cause symptoms that persist for several weeks or months after injury. If you experience any of these signs or symptoms after head injury: dizziness fogginess loss of memory balance problems persistent headache sensitivity to light nausea vomiting blurred vision numbness in arms weakness/tingling in extremities behavior changes (e.g., emotional)
What are some preventative measures that can be taken to avoid concussions?
Things you can do to prevent concussions :
- wear a specialized helmet during organized or unorganized sports, when riding a bicycle
- wear your seatbelt while driving and in the front passenger seat
- practice proper hydration and nutrition
- avoid smoking if you are a smoker, try to quit
- choose to avoid places where head injuries are likely to occur (e.g., contact sports).
- use caution when playing high-impact sports like soccer, basketball, football, boxing or hockey.
- play within your limits;
“You have brains in your head so use them!” – Dr. Seuss
When Should You Visit Our Physical Therapy Specialist?
A concussion can cause huge problems if it’s not treated in the right timings. And this is why you need to seek medical attention when you notice some of these signs on your loved ones, friends, children, or even yourself.
It’s advisable to see a specialist within one to two days after experiencing a head injury. Even when there are no symptoms or emergency care required.
It’s more critical to look out for your children. As many children fall and get injured when they’re playing or doing some other tasks. So always be alert. Look for the symptoms. And when someone gets a head injury, seek medical attention immediately.
Start with Specialized Physical Therapy for concussions as soon as possible.