Concussions receive a lot of attention in the media these days. It seems like every week you hear about an NFL player that is out on concussion protocol. Everyone seems to know a young athlete that isn’t playing their sport because of a concussion. The CDC estimates that 1.6 million to 3.8 million people will experience a concussion each year in the United States, with many cases also going unreported. As concussions have become more prevalently reported and more research is being conducted, the role of physical therapy for concussions has been emerging. There is growing evidence highlighting the benefits of an active approach to concussion recovery instead of just waiting for symptoms to resolve.
A concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the brain is shaken inside the skull, causing changes in the brain’s chemistry and energy supply. Concussion can occur at any age, with causes including motor vehicle collisions, work accidents, falls, and sports injuries. Headaches, dizziness, neck pain and balance problems are some of the most common symptoms of concussion. Most concussion symptoms will subside in 7 to 10 days. Post-concussion syndrome occurs when symptoms last longer than expected.
Concussions and post-concussion syndrome are often diagnosed with a careful clinical exam. High tech scanning, such as an MRI or a CT scan will not show any brain abnormality with a concussion, even if there are symptoms present. A concussion is considered microdamage to the brain and can’t be seen on these images. That being said, you should always seek medical attention from a licensed healthcare provider following a suspected head injury.
Your physical therapist can be part of an interdisciplinary team involved with concussion management, including your primary care doctor, specialists and athletic trainer. Physical therapy can evaluate and treat many of the problems related to concussion. Treatment may include education on rest and recovery, improving balance and exercise for improving muscle strength/endurance and eye coordination.
Mike at Motion Works Physical Therapy has been involved with the management of patients with post-concussion syndrome for over a decade. Call 508-660-1110 for more information or to make an appointment.