The Repercussions of Concussions

We have all heard of concussions. While they are typically associated with athletes, they can happen to anyone. Everything from taking a hard hit on the football field to a car accident to a slip and fall on an icy sidewalk can cause a concussion.

To explain it in simple terms, a concussion is a brain injury. It occurs when the brain strikes the interior of the skull. It can be caused by any direct or indirect hit to the head, face, neck, or any part of the body. Essentially, any injury that causes a sudden shaking or jarring motion can cause a concussion.

There are many signs and symptoms of a concussion. They include but are not limited to the following:

  • Loss of consciousness or responsiveness
  • Unsteadiness or lack of balance
  • Grabbing or clutching the head
  • Looking dazed or confused
  • Seizures
  • Nausea
  • Headache
  • Exaggerated or random emotions
  • Drowsiness
  • Neck pain
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Inability to answer simple questions like “Where are we?”

It is important to note that you do not have to lose consciousness to have a concussion. Symptoms typically last 7-10 days, but can last several weeks or even months, depending on severity and the health of the individual.

If you suspect that you or someone you know has a concussion it is important to stop what you are doing immediately to prevent further damage or injury. Medical attention should be sought as soon as possible and the patient should not drive or be left alone.

The best treatment for a concussion is rest. This does not mean just physical rest, although it is important to cease all sports, exercise, and recreational activity such as bike riding. Attending school and work should be limited as well. As this is a brain injury, you must also rest your brain. That means no reading, texting, watching television, using a computer, or playing on electronic games. All of these activities cause mental stimulation, which is not good for a recovering brain.

The most important part of recovering from a concussion is to follow the instructions of your medical professionals including your physiotherapist. Return to activity should only be attempted at the direction of your physician or physiotherapist. If, upon returning to regular activities, you notice that your symptoms are returning, you should stop immediately and seek medical attention again.

How can Physiotherapists help?

Physiotherapists can evaluate and treat many problems related to concussion. Because no 2 concussions are the same, your examination will assess your individual symptoms and problems, so that the physiotherapist can design a safe and individualized treatment program just for you.


Treatment may include:

Rest and Recovery. Your physio will help you and your family understand why you should limit any kind of activity (physical, sport, recreational, electronic, school) after a concussion, until it is safe to return to these activities. A period of rest helps the brain heal and helps symptoms clear up, as quickly as possible. Your physio will prescribe the rest and recovery program most appropriate for your condition.


Restoring Strength and Endurance. The physical and mental rest required after a concussion can result in muscle weakness, and a decrease in physical endurance. Your physio can help you regain your strength and endurance, when the right time comes, without making your concussion symptoms worse. Your physio will design a therapeutic exercise program just for you, and closely monitor your symptoms as you participate in the program.


Stopping Dizziness and Improving Balance. If you have dizziness or difficulty with your balance following a concussion, a type of physiotherapy called vestibular physiotherapy may help. The vestibular system, which includes the inner ear and its connections with the brain, helps you keep your balance and prevent dizziness. A qualified vestibular physiotherapist may be able to help reduce or stop your dizziness or balance problems after a concussion by applying special treatments or teaching you specific exercises. There even may be some simple exercises that your physio can teach you to do at home.


Reducing Headaches. Your physio will assess the different possible causes of your headaches, and use specific treatments and exercises to reduce and eliminate them. Treatment may include stretches, strength and motion exercises, eye exercises, hands-on techniques, like specialized massage, and the use of technologies such as electrical stimulation.


Returning to Normal Activity or Sport. As symptoms ease and you are able to regain your normal strength and endurance without symptoms returning, your physio will help you gradually add normal activities back into your daily routine. Your physio will help you avoid overloading the brain and nervous system, as you increase your activity level. Overloading the brain during activity after a concussion interferes with the healing of the brain tissue, and can make your symptoms return. Your physio will help return you to your normal life and sport activities in the quickest and safest way possible, while allowing your brain to properly heal.

If you suffered from a concussion, call the clinic today 705-474-4440 to make an appointment with our physiotherapists.