What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull. Although there may be cuts or bruises on the head or face, there are often no other visible signs of a brain injury. Concussions disrupt the chemical balance in the brain; therefore if proper resting protocols are not followed, symptoms may persist longer than anticipated.
You don’t have to pass out (lose consciousness) to have a concussion. Some people will have obvious symptoms of a concussion, such as nausea/vomiting or amnesia (forgetting events before or after the injury). Others may experience headaches, sensitivity to light or noise, fatigue, or changes in mood that could be attributed to causes and not always recognized as symptoms related to concussions. With rest and proper education, most people fully recover from a concussion within 7 to 21 days. Guidelines for rest are becoming even stricter in children under age 18 due to the dangers of second impact syndrome and permanent cognitive deficits. There is also increased risk for delayed healing in people with a history of repeated concussions or whiplash injuries, those with ADHD/ADD, Depression, Anxiety, and Migraines. When symptoms persist beyond 21days, the person may be suffering from Post-Concussion Syndrome, which can be assessed and treated by our Athletic Therapists. The protocol for treatment in these varies greatly from one individual to another depending on presentation and symptom, but may include vision retraining, balance/proprioception/coordination exercise, cardiovascular reconditioning, or manual therapy.
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In rare cases, concussions cause more serious problems. Repeated concussions may lead to long-lasting problems with movement/coordination, vision, learning, or speaking. Because of the small chance of permanent or life threatening brain injury, it is important to contact a doctor if you or someone you know experiences symptoms of a concussion.
Management Strategies of Concussions at Club Physio Plus
Following a concussion, the “sitting in a dark room” approach is only effective for so long. Concussions, like other sports injuries, should be properly managed and rehabilitated. While complete physical and cognitive rest is the mainstay of concussion care, having a health professional guide you through this step-by-step may prove to be invaluable.
Recovering from a concussion can be a difficult and frustrating time. At Club Physio Plus, we understand that each athlete is affected differently and as such, requires individualized care. Management strategies are used to limit the amount of impairment as well as expedite recovery as much as possible. These strategies may include any one or a combination of the following and are case-dependent:
- Individualized resting strategies and home instruction
- Specific recommendations around employment/academic demands
- Manual therapy for associated complaints (neck pain, whiplash etc.)
- Visual motor rehabilitation
- Vestibular therapy
- Physical exertion testing and exercise plans for return-to-sport
Once symptom free, it is recommended that each athlete undergo a step-wise process of physical exertion testing. Similar to weight training, athletes recovering from a concussion should not skip to 100% exertion from 0% in a short time frame. Physical exertion testing is important not only for physical re-conditioning, but to guard against symptom relapse and help prevent premature return-to-sport. Our Club Physio Plus professionals can guide you through this process.
Russell Gunner is a trained provider of the Shift Concussion Management Program.
Baseline testing is designed for athletes participating in collision or high impact sports where the likelihood of head or neck trauma is high. It consists of an assessment of the range of motion and strength of the neck, balance/proprioception, eye movement/tracking, coordination, and memory testing and may or may not include the iMPACT computerized neurocognitive test. Ideally, baseline testing is done at the beginning of the season, but can be done at any time. The testing should be completed annually as the child’s cognitive function is constantly changing as they get older. The goal of baseline testing is to establish the athlete’s current abilities and any pre-existing deficits in each category. Should the athlete suffer a concussion throughout the year, having the baseline scores will better enable us to determine the athlete’s ability to return to play at the appropriate time.
Costs of Concussion Management
Your private insurance may cover the costs of the baseline and post-concussion treatments if you have Athletic Therapy or Acupuncture within your plan. Hockey Canada will cover some of the post-concussion treatments and tests if you were injured during a hockey game. Please call the clinic for exact prices.
Treatment of Concussions
Currently our Athletic Therapy staff are highly qualified in concussion management and treatment. It is very important when treating concussions that the visual and vestibular areas are addressed. Our staff has been trained to rehabilitate all of the concussions symptoms that you may be experiencing. We are also able to offer some other forms of treatment following a concussion such as osteopathy, acupuncture and massage. These have all been shown to significantly reduce and improve concussion type symptoms.Make an Appointment