Concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussion can also occur from a blow to the body elsewhere, which causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth within the skull. During an incident where a concussion is sustained, the brains tissue and structures are subjected to a significant degree of force, which can temporarily impact on the normal functioning of the brain. Depending on the mechanism of injury you can also sustain injuries to adjacent structures such as the neck, jaw and inner ear structures. Symptoms from injuries to these structures can overlap with post-concussion symptoms and you need a skilled health professional to work through these with you.
Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully. During recovery, it is important to know that many people have a range of symptoms. Some symptoms may appear right away, while others may not be noticed for hours or even days after the injury. You may not realize you have problems until you try to do usual activities again. Typical signs and symptoms are included in the table below.
These “post-concussive” symptoms can be part of the normal healing process and are generally not signs of permanent damage or serious health problems.
When should I start Physiotherapy?
It is important that you follow-up with your Physiotherapist within 48hours of the injury. Rest is the key! Be sure to get enough sleep at night- no late nights. Keep the same bedtime as you would usually. Take daytime naps or rest breaks when you feel tired or fatigued. Drink lots of fluids and eat carbohydrates or protein to main appropriate blood sugar levels.
What does Physiotherapy for concussion involve?
Physiotherapists experienced in concussion assessment and recovery can assess your symptoms and advise on an appropriate treatment plan. Treatment may include addressing neck issues, balance re-training, vestibular rehabilitation, guided graduated return to exercise, and education regarding recovery time-frames and expectations. The Physiotherapist will also liaise closely with your GP and advise on appropriate services, such as ‘Concussion Services’, which is funded by ACC.
When to go to the Doctor:
Call your doctor or go to your emergency department if you suddenly experience any of the following:
- Headaches that worsen
- Difficulty with you vision
- Can’t recognize people or places
- Increasing neck pain
- Difficulty walking
- Unusual behaviour change
- Repeated vomiting
- One pupil larger than the other
- Loss of consciousness
- Increasingly agitated
- Weakness or numbness in the arms and legs
- Slurred speech