Concussions are an injury to the brain that often occurs from some sort of trauma to the head or the body. Everyone’s experience with a concussion is different, but some common signs and symptoms include:
- Nausea/ Vomiting
- Blurred Vision
- Trouble focusing
- Feeling tired/ fatigued
- Difficulty with balance and coordination
So, what can a physiotherapist do to help a concussion? Physiotherapists provide a variety of treatments to help to reach your rehabilitation goals for a concussion. One area of focus is the vestibular system. This is located in the inner ear and contributes to balance and can be affected after a concussion occurs. So, to target this system there will be a focus on balance retraining. These balance exercises will be performed in a safe environment under supervision to mitigate the risk of falls. There is also a chance that an inner ear crystal was dislodged which can cause dizziness and even vertigo (BPPV) as these crystals help to sense where your body is moving relative to your head. To help treat this, different maneuvers such as the Epley maneuver may be performed to move the crystal back to a position that decreases dizziness.
Another area of focus would include vision. Blurred vision or eye strain can occur after a concussion. To help reduce these symptoms, ocular reflex training will be included in the treatment plan. In the clinic this can be done through guided eye movements and techniques to retrain binocular vision. There are also worksheets that can be done at home to further help this retraining.
The areas surrounding the head and neck will also be targeted as there will likely be muscle guarding and muscle stiffness. Often whiplash occurs simultaneously with concussions which will further exacerbate this issue. That being said, many manual therapy techniques will be used to help to re-establish the neck mechanics. This may include soft tissue mobilization, myofascial release, among other methods including acupuncture and dry needling.
Arguably one of the most important roles a physiotherapist can play in recovering from a concussion is education. At first there will be some activity restrictions to allow the healing process to commence. To allow for proper recovery, your physiotherapist will put a gradual graded return to activity program in place so that you can begin to safely implement more activities as the tissues heal.
If you would like further information about our treatment options or you would like to ask some questions you could book a free 15 min consultation with one of our therapists.