A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can occur by either a blow to the head or elsewhere on the body. It can also include anything that can cause the head/brain to move rapidly back and forth. This causes the nerves of the brain to stretch, thus leading to a change in the biochemical balance. Individuals who sustain a concussion can report symptoms such as:
- Loss of consciousness
- Light sensitivity
- Glazed look in the eyes
- Delayed response to questions
- Behaviour changes
If a concussion is suspected, the individual must be immediately removed from play/activity and be assessed by a professional.
A big mistake with many athletes, active individuals, or anyone else after a concussion is they often go into complete rest. After their symptoms begin to improve, they jump right back into their sport, school, or occupation. This reproduces their symptoms and causes further anxiety and stress, which forces patients back into further isolation.
Physiotherapy takes an evidence-based approach to your concussion. It is best to come in for an appointment 24-28 hours after your head injury. The therapist will complete an evaluation and will begin a concussion program customized to your injury. Your plan may involve balance training, cervical strengthening, vision therapy, and more. Concussion rehab aims to provide a progressive and graded exposure to ensure the brain heals optimally and side effects are avoided or minimized.
We now know that the old theory of COMPLETE rest until you feel better is not only ineffective but will impair your recovery. Ottawa's groundbreaking study showed that children who rest too long are more likely to have persistent symptoms. A medically guided rehabilitation program that encourages movement to tolerance will allow you to get better faster and return to your sport or occupation.