Concussion care is all about having a well balanced team of health care professionals. As our knowledge of what a concussion truly is advances, so does our care for concussions.
What is a Concussion?
The CDC defines concussion:
A type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.”
Choose PT defines concussion:
Concussion is a brain injury that occurs when the brain is violently shaken. The injury can happen during rapid movement changes (such as whiplash) or when the head is directly hit. This shaking or hitting of the head causes unpredictable injury to any area of the brain, resulting in immediate or delayed changes in the brain’s chemistry and function. Less than 10% of concussions involve a loss of consciousness. Depending on which area of the brain suffers injury, many different temporary or permanent problems with brain function can occur.
Signs and Symptoms
Immediate and short-term symptoms
Cognitive (thinking) symptoms can include:
- Difficulty with short-term or long-term memory
- Slowed “processing” (eg, a decreased ability to think through problems)
- Difficulty concentrating
- Worsening grades in school
Physical symptoms of a concussion can include:
- Difficulty with balance and coordination
- Difficulty sleeping or increased sleepiness
- Double or blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light and sound
- Slurred speech
- Glassy-eyed stare
Some concussion symptoms do not go away in the expected time frame. These symptoms may need further testing and treatment by a team of health care providers, including a physical therapist. Physical Therapy can help with a number of post concussive symptoms including dizziness, headaches, difficulties with balance and coordination, fatigue, double or blurred vision and sensitivity to light and sound. Here at Red Rock Physical Therapy we have a Certified Concussion Management Physical Therapist.
Our therapist will perform a targeted comprehensive examination to determine what areas need addressed. Upon evaluation, together with the patient, the therapist will determine the best course of action to get you back to the activities you love. Some areas that will be assessed are balance and coordination, neck ROM and strength, vision, headache assessment and dizziness assessment.
Concussion Baseline Testing
We also perform baseline concussion testing which consists of balance, endurance, ROM and strength testing, cognitive/memory assessment and a vestibular and oculomotor exam. This data can be used for athletes in the case of a concussion and can help the therapist tailor a program for a successful return to play.