A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury that could have long-term repercussions on brain tissues and alter the brain's chemical balance. Concussions can induce both long and short-term physical, behavioral and cognitive symptoms and other issues. Health care practitioners regard every concussion to be a significant injury. If you've suffered head injuries, seek medical attention as soon as possible.

A physiotherapist can analyze your symptoms to establish if you have a concussion, and then treat your condition by leading you through an individualized recovery plan. Suarez Physical Therapy is a certified physical therapist practice in Las Vegas that provides professional physical therapy treatment for concussion patients. Read on to learn more about concussions and how our physiotherapists can help you on your journey to recovery.

An Overview of Concussion

A concussion is defined as a brain injury caused by a violent shaking of the head. This injury can occur as a result of rapid motion changes (for instance, whiplash) and also as a result of a direct strike to the head. The shaking or striking of the head causes unforeseeable injury to any part of the brain, causing instant or delayed alterations in the structure and functioning of the brain. Only around ten percent of all concussions lead to lost consciousness. Many possible short or long-term issues with cognitive function can emerge based on which part of the brain is injured.

Concussions can happen to anyone, at any age, and can be influenced by a multitude of things, including:

  • Workplace accidents (for instance, head trauma and falls)
  • Playground accidents (for example falls from a swing or slide)
  • A neck or head injury sustained while participating in sports
  • Falls (which have been the major source of concussions)
  • Violent occurrences, for example:
  • Shaking of the head as a form of physical abuse
  • Being in the proximity of an explosion or a blast
  • A direct strike to the face, head, or neck
  • Assaults and domestic violence

Concussion recovery could take weeks, months, or even years, based on a range of elements, such as the degree of the trauma as well as the age of the patient injured.

Additional injuries, including those involving the neck or adjacent tissues, often accompany concussions and therefore should be treated by a certified physical therapist. Other significant brain injuries, like bruises, bleeding, or tears, could arise and necessitate emergency medical attention from a specialist, like a neurosurgeon.

How Does a Concussion Feel Like?

Concussions are brain injuries, and those who have had one might not have the ability to describe how they are feeling after the injury has happened. As a result, working with a physiotherapist, your family, friends, and/or colleagues who can recognize any shifts in you is critical.

Signs and Symptoms

Concussions have a wide range of symptoms that can impact you physically, emotionally, and mentally. Some symptoms appear right away, others several hours later, while others appear months or even years following a concussion.

It's critical to receive medical attention as soon as possible after sustaining head injuries. The likelihood of death or severe brain trauma caused by a concussion can be reduced by seeking prompt and proper medical attention from medical providers, such as a physical therapist.

Only medical practitioners have the skills and knowledge to recognize concussions among the myriad of indicators that could arise after a head injury.

Instant and Short-Term Symptoms

A concussion can cause the following physical symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Difficulties with coordination and balance
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Increased drowsiness
  • Sleeping problems
  • Light as well as sound sensitivity
  • Glassy-eyed stare
  • Doubled or blurry vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures

The following are examples of cognitive/intellectual symptoms:

  • Confusion
  • Short-term or long-term memory problems
  • Fogginess
  • Delayed processing (for example a lowered ability to work through everyday problems).
  • Gradually deteriorating academic performance
  • Trouble concentrating

The following are examples of emotional symptoms of a concussion:

  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Restlessness
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Lowered tolerance to stress
  • Depression
  • A shift in one's character or conduct

Long-term Symptoms

  • Loss of libido
  • Problems with development in children
  • Loss of menstruation
  • Low blood pressure
  • Fatigue
  • Weakness of the muscles
  • Weight gain
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Chronic dizziness or headaches
  • Early dementia or persistent traumatic encephalopathy/brain disorder

Sometimes concussion symptoms will not go away as quickly as they should. Subsequent testing as well as care by a team of medical experts, along with a physical therapist, could be required.

Symptoms like dizziness or headaches that linger for weeks or even months following a concussion are known as postconcussion syndrome. A second-impact syndrome is a dangerous (yet preventable) condition that can arise following a concussion. A patient who has had a previous concussion could suffer irreversible damage to the brain or perhaps death if they have an additional concussion. Learning impairments, behavioral changes, movement disabilities, as well as other nerve or brain disabilities are all examples of irreversible brain damage.

According to research, a patient who has suffered a subsequent concussion before the first has recovered has a 100 percent likelihood of permanent damage to the brain as well as a 50% risk of death.

For example, a player in a soccer team who sustains a concussion during a game continues to play, and is struck again; or a man who has sustained a concussion caused by whiplash during an automobile accident then slips and falls when he reaches home and sustains another concussion shortly after the first injury.

To avoid a recurrence of a concussion, extreme caution should be exercised. Athletes who sustain concussions during training or competition should be taken out of the game right away to avoid more concussions as well as a second-impact syndrome.

A physical therapist will work with you to design safe return-to-play, return-to-work, and return-to-life guidelines.

Someone with a record of previous concussions, eye movement or tracking disorders from infancy, severe headaches, a cognitive disability, or an attention deficit hyperactivity disorder, might need more time to heal. It's critical to tell your physiotherapist about your whole medical history.

Diagnosing a Concussion

The most common way for a medical provider, like a physiotherapist, to diagnose a concussion is through meticulous testing. Unfortunately, there is no specific test or method for diagnosing concussions. The diagnostic procedure is often not based on high-tech testing, like an MRI or a CT scan, since brain scans sometimes fail to reveal any abnormalities in the brain, even when a patient is showing symptoms of a concussion.

Your physiotherapist will ask you multiple questions to get clarity on every one of the symptoms you're suffering from. He/she will also conduct a series of tests to determine whether a concussion has caused complications, such as muscular strength, balance, coordination, vision, taste, hearing, as well as memory assessments.

Throughout your treatment, the physiotherapist will ask you the initial questions and administer similar tests to assess your progress and determine when you are ready to return to your school, work, sports, or leisure pursuits.

If you're an athlete who had preseason memory or neuropsychological tests, your physiotherapist can work with your health care practitioner who did the tests to see if you've had a concussion.

After a concussion, your physiotherapist may assess your neck for abnormalities. Neck injuries could happen simultaneously as concussions, and they can make migraines and dizziness worse.

Why Should You Seek the Help of a Physical Therapist

Concussions are rehabilitative injuries, according to the latest international consensus. Physical therapists could be very helpful in the rehabilitative process, especially when it comes to treating neck as well as upper back problems, and also dizziness or balance issues. Physical therapists could also assist in the early medical intervention of vision dysfunctions that can be triggered by a concussion.

Physical Therapy for Chronic Concussion Symptoms

Chronic concussion symptoms are those that linger longer than what is regarded as a standard healing period. Adults typically recover in 10 to 14 days, while children recover in four weeks. "Chronic" symptoms are those that endure longer than any of these periods.

Engaging with physical therapists could be useful as soon as several days after an injury, according to recent research. It's crucial to consult a physiotherapist within a week after a concussion, particularly for athletes. Physiotherapists can play an important role in the creation and implementation of a customized rehabilitation program. They are especially well-suited to assisting athletes in retaining and maintaining their physical performance as much as necessary during the process of recovery.

How a Physical Therapist Can Help in Concussion Recovery

The majority of adults (75 to 85 percent) heal from concussions in 10 to 14 days, while children can expect to recuperate in approximately four weeks. Nevertheless, for patients still displaying symptoms further than that limit, consulting with a physical therapist could also be merited. Physiotherapists can treat patients in a variety of ways, including:

Neck Rehabilitation

Many forms of head injuries can cause a concussion, and whatever impacts the head often impacts the neck as well. The neck of a patient will often become tense or stiff to shield the head before, during, or following an accident, leading to the chronic neck or shoulder pain after a concussion. It’s especially noticeable in patients who have been suffering from long-term migraines or head problems, as the shoulders and neck seek to cushion the head from any further stress. Physical therapists can increase thoracic and cervical spine movement as well as execute methods and treatments to relieve symptoms.

PT treatments can help restore neck functionality in a variety of ways, from physical therapy to progressive therapeutic exercises.

Rehabilitation For Dizziness and Balance

Concussion patients who constantly feel off-balance or disoriented in the days or weeks after their injury might seek help from physical therapists who specialize in vestibular therapy. Disequilibrium/off balance, nausea, dizziness, vertigo/room spinning, and vision impairment are some of the indicators of abnormal vestibular function. Professional physical therapists can equip you with approaches and activities that will help your vestibular function adjust and return to healthy functioning following a thorough assessment.

The most severe vestibular pathology that emerges after a traumatic head injury is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV). Vertigo, which is caused by head movements like tossing in bed or moving the head fast, is the most common indicator of BPPV. This vertigo will last a few seconds and is usually preceded by fogginess or lightheadedness which can last for hours. A qualified expert can usually successfully manage this if it is accurately diagnosed.

Early Vision Rehabilitation and Eye-Tracking

Those who have suffered a concussion usually experience problems with their vision as well as capacity to track movements. When a person has been assessed and no mental red flags emerge that would necessitate a consult with a neurologist, the physiotherapist can use oculomotor activities in a supervised setting to gradually retrain the patient to handle intricate moving visual situations. Activities such as pencil push-ups or Brock String convergence exercises can assist the eye to adjust to variations in visual depth.

The ability of the eyes to properly focus and retain concentration without turning the head could be improved by using visual targets. If the symptoms continue after these exercises, you should consult a neuro-ophthalmologist or a vision specialist.

Individualized Aerobic Exercise Program and Treadmill Test

The Buffalo Concussion Treadmill Test, a type of graded activity assessment, can be administered by physiotherapists who are well-versed in the concussion field. This customized treadmill test is utilized to ascertain to what extent of intensive exercise patients may perform without the symptoms getting worse. This data on exertion levels could then be utilized to create a personalized aerobic exercise regimen.

Graded exercise tests have been examined as a technique for diagnosis as well as a method for recovering for those suffering from mild concussions, particularly those with chronic symptoms.

Autonomic Nervous System Dysfunction Rehabilitation

Patients with chronic symptoms linked to autonomic nervous system disorder should follow a personalized aerobic exercise regimen (which controls symptom aggravation). The autonomic nervous system is in charge of controlling non-conscious body activities including breathing and blood pressure.

Reducing the Risk of Lower Extremity Injury After Concussion

Patients who have had a concussion could have an increased risk of lower extremity damage even a year following the concussion; engaging with a physiotherapist could lessen this risk.

Is It Possible to Prevent this Injury or Condition?

Although initial injuries cannot always be avoided, it is critical to prevent future injuries for persons who have suffered a concussion. Unless all symptoms have subsided and normal activities can continue, the injured individual should be constantly monitored.

Implementing the following steps can dramatically minimize the likelihood of concussion:

Avoid crashes with other vehicles:

  • Instead of driving aggressively, drive defensively
  • Distractions like snacking, talking on the phone, or texting should be avoided when driving
  • Choose vehicles that have airbags
  • Ensure the car's airbags are all in good functioning order

When it comes to sports, stay away from high-risk activities:

  • Football tactics that raise the danger of concussions, like "spearing" or headbutting, must be avoided at all costs
  • Limit or avoid hitting the ball using your head during soccer
  • Do not overlook or cover up symptoms of concussions, even though it is a big game. Notify your coach about the symptoms soon as possible
  • Keep up with federal and state regulations
  • Keep in mind that neither headgears nor protective gear avert concussions
  • Remove any loosened throw rugs, fallen items, faulty flooring, damaged or tattered carpets, or pet toys and dishes from your house's walking spaces to reduce the chances of falling
  • Ensure your home's high-traffic spaces are properly lit
  • Avoid being exposed to explosive blasts or violent situations
  • Don't shake small children or even anybody of any age

It is critical to avoid second-impact syndrome following a first concussion. An injured person needs to be constantly monitored till all the symptoms have subsided and routine activities can resume.

Incorporating Physical Therapy into Your Recovery

Physiotherapists are trained to treat a wide range of injuries and conditions through their education and expertise. You might wish to consider:

  • A physiotherapist with the knowledge of treating patients suffering from post-concussion syndrome. Other physical therapists focus their work on neurological and vestibular therapy
  • A physiotherapist who has undergone a residency/fellowship and is a board-certified medical specialist. This physiotherapist possesses a thorough understanding, expertise, and abilities that could be useful in addressing your issue

Generally, when searching for a physiotherapist (or just about any medical care practitioner), keep the following in mind:

  • Seek advice from relatives, colleagues, or any other healthcare professionals
  • Inquire about the physical therapist's familiarity with concussions. Inquire with your concussion treatment team about whether physiotherapy is appropriate for your condition. If you're working with a general practitioner or another medical professional, for example, a neurology expert, they might not be aware of physiotherapy as a treatment option.

Physical therapists could be found within your medical network or even in a private outpatient facility. You can also consider outpatient rehabilitation facilities, which often feature physical therapists who are experienced in dealing with all types of brain traumas.

A team approach is advised for people with chronic concussion symptoms. Other providers could also be able to assist you with the symptoms along with physical therapy.

Find a Physical Therapist Near Me

At Suarez Physical Therapy, we guarantee that patients who have had a concussion receive the finest possible treatment. Our staff is up to speed on pertinent state legislation, the most recent research as well as rehabilitative approaches for concussion treatment. Contact us today at 702-368-6778 to set up a consultation with one of our specialists. We'd be pleased to offer you guidance on how to proceed in your present condition.