A concussion is a type of mild Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI) that can occur from falls, sports activities or car accidents. It can be caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head, directly or indirectly, that can change how your brain normally works. An estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million concussions occur in sports and recreational activities annually in the United States and 80-90% of individuals who suffer sports-related concussions recover within 2 weeks while the remaining may have longer recovery periods spanning weeks to years.
A concussion is described as a ‘mild’ traumatic brain injury, however, this only means that it is not life threatening. Concussions still need to be taken seriously. Structural damage may not always be present in concussions, thus, most standard imaging findings (MRI, CT scans, etc.) are typically clear. This does not mean you are not concussed. You can still be concussed even if you didn’t ‘black out’ or lose consciousness. Concussions can be caused by indirect trauma to the brain. This means that trauma to any other part of the body can lead to concussions if the brain is impacted.
A person can have a concussion and not even realize it. Family, friends, teammates and co-workers may often encourage you to push past your concussion symptoms. If you are concussed, this might aggravate your symptoms and delay your recovery.
- Memory loss
- Loss of consciousness; seeing white, black or stars
- Trouble concentrating
- ‘Foggy’ mind
- Slowed reaction times Emotional
- Increased irritability
- Personality changes
- Depression, anxiety, sleeping disorders or other mental illness
- Headache, dizziness
- Neck pain
- Nausea, vomiting
- ‘Ringing’ in the ears
- Poor coordination and balance
Useful Hints for People with Concussions
Immediately following a concussion:
- • Stop doing that activity immediately.
- Do not engage in further activities that may cause further head injury.
- Avoid bright lights, loud noises and busy environments that may worsen your symptoms.
- Avoid tasks that require complicated thinking or concentration (e.g. reading, work, homework).
In concussed patients with symptoms lasting longer than 2-3 weeks:
- Immediate consultation with a health care provider is strongly recommended.
- Do not return to physical activity until a health care provider knowledgeable about concussion diagnosis and management has cleared you.
A physiotherapist will assess your injury and provide you with a management strategy to aid in your recovery. Assessment of your injury includes neurocognitive testing, vision and vestibular testing, and a musculoskeletal assessment.
Recovering from a concussion can be a difficult and frustrating time. Every person is affected differently by their concussion, and thus requires individualized care. Concussion rehabilitation aims to reduce the impairment as well as expedite recovery as much as possible. Rehabilitation involves:
- Individualized resting strategies and home instruction.
- Specific recommendations regarding employment or academic modifications.
- Manual therapy for associated orthopaedic complaints (e.g. neck pain, whiplash, etc.)
- Rehabilitation: vision therapy, vestibular therapy, balance training, coordination exercises, and cognitive training.
- Screening and referrals to associated specialists and healthcare providers as required, including ENTs, psychologists, and neuro-optometrists.
- Physical exertion testing and exercise plans for return to activities and return to sport.
No referral is required, but it is recommended that you are assessed by your physician prior to commencing a concussion rehabilitation program. Concussion assessments take 60 minutes, with follow up appointments lasting 30-45 minutes. We accept new patients under WSIB, auto-insurance and extended health benefits. Please call us at (905) 777-9838 to make an appointment or to speak with a member of the clinical team about your health concern.