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Concussion: Causes, Symptoms, and Rehabilitation


A short-haired man holding his neck while turning back.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when an impact causes the brain to move rapidly. While it is often a minor injury, it can have lasting consequences if not correctly diagnosed. The CDC has stated that concussions can prove fatal if left undiagnosed.


Read on to learn more about concussions and their major causes, symptoms, and rehabilitation to help you manage the injury better.


Concussion and Its Causes

A concussion is a common injury caused due to rapid brain movement. So, it can happen to people of all ages. Sports and other contact activities are significant contributors, and it is estimated that over 3.8 million sports-related concussions occur in the US alone. The causes can be broadly categorized into two major categories.


Direct Impact

A direct hit to the head would result in a concussion. Some of the direct impact causes include:

● A head injury due to a fall or sports accident.

● Assault injury on the head.

● Accident damage to the neck or head.


Indirect Impact

In addition to direct impact, some indirect forces can also cause concussions. For example, a violent body check during football can result in a whiplash concussion. Other indirect causes can include:

● Explosions or blasts

● Motor Accidents


Symptoms and Diagnosis


The back shot of a man with a grey jacket and spectacles examining the visual focus of a female with a ponytail

Based on a person’s age and the severity of the injury, the symptoms of a concussion might differ. While most symptoms are not life-threatening, there are chances for severe and long-lasting consequences. In general, concussion symptoms can be grouped into three major categories.


1. Physical Symptoms

Any symptom that physically presents itself like:

● Headache.

● Nausea and vomiting.

● Imbalance and dizziness.

● Blurred vision or sensitivity to light.

● Ringing in the ears.

● Fatigue.


2. Cognitive Symptoms

Neural and brain cell damage can result in cognitive symptoms like:

● Difficulty concentrating or remembering.

● Confusion or disorientation.

● Slow thinking or processing speed.

● Fogginess or grogginess.

● Difficulty with analytical thinking.


3. Emotional Symptoms

Concussion-induced chemical reactions can result in emotional symptoms like:

● Irritability or mood swings.

● Depression or anxiety.

● Emotional imbalance or outrage.


It's important to note that not all symptoms may appear immediately after a concussion. So, it’s better to consult with a healthcare professional even if you feel fine after a head injury. A doctor consultation is critical for head injuries in children because research suggests that early concussions could lead to long-term lifestyle impacts.


Diagnosis

An immediate diagnosis and treatment are critical, as a second concussion could prove fatal if your first head injury is left undiagnosed. A concussion is generally diagnosed based on a combination of factors, including the patient's symptoms, medical history, and a physical examination. Doctors and healthcare professionals might also perform cognitive tests before concluding the diagnosis. Additional treatment may be necessary to ensure a complete recovery because certain symptoms may worsen over time. So, following up with your therapist can help you manage long-term impacts.


Treatment and Recovery

Since concussions can result in different symptoms, the treatments would differ from person to person. The road to recovery might also vary depending on the severity. In general, the treatments would fall under these three broad categories, but if you are experiencing any other physical discomfort or injury, consider seeking treatment from a physiotherapy clinic in Edmonton.


1. Rest and Recovery

The primary treatment for most concussions is rest. Resting the brain allows it to heal and reduces the risk of further injury or complications. To recover from mild trauma, healthcare professionals could also advise you to avoid physical exertion, electronic use, and loud noises. During the recovery period, doctors generally monitor symptoms to make sure that the symptoms aren’t worsening.


2. Medication and Surgery

Doctors might prescribe specific medications to manage the symptoms. Medication can range from over-the-counter painkillers, sleep aids, and steroids to antidepressants, based on the severity. Surgeries can also be recommended in some severe cases to ensure complete recovery. Note that all of these decisions will be based on a comprehensive consultation considering several factors.


3. Rehabilitation

Concussions could occasionally result in a permanent change to the brain’s chemical structure. These changes can lead to persisting symptoms or other long-term complications. In these cases, rehabilitation processes like physical therapy, occupational therapy, speech therapy, or cognitive therapy could be the best option for recovery. Since rehabilitation may involve a gradual return to normal activities, it is often tailored to the individual's needs and symptoms.


Prevention

Since concussions can happen to anyone, it's essential to look at ways of prevention. The top physiotherapists in Edmonton recommend the following measures to minimize the chances of sustaining a concussion injury.


1. Protective Gear

Wearing protective gear, especially while participating in contact sports, can reduce the risk of concussion. That’s why many leagues have made helmets, mouthguards, pads, and other gear mandatory.


2. Follow Safety Guidelines

Following proper safety guidelines is important for playing a sport, working, or traveling. Several workplaces and sports have also created standardized assessment tools to diagnose concussions better and avoid secondary injuries.


3. Rest and Train

Proper rest and training can help you strengthen your body and make injury recovery easier. Training to strengthen neck muscles can also help reduce the risk, as strong neck muscles can help absorb the impact of a blow to the head.


4. Avoid Alcohol and Drugs

Since alcohol/drugs can impair your judgment and balance, they can increase the risk of injury. Avoiding these substances when working, playing, or driving can help you prevent concussions and any other life-threatening injury.


5. Seek Immediate Medical Attention

If you suspect that you or someone else has sustained a concussion, seek immediate medical attention to receive proper diagnosis and treatment.


How can a Physiotherapist help?

A physiotherapist plays a crucial role in the rehabilitation of a concussion. The goal of a good physiotherapist is to help a person regain physical/cognitive functions, reduce symptoms, and improve their quality of life. In addition, physiotherapists can also provide personalized sports and exercise physiotherapy treatments to prevent further injury.


When choosing a physiotherapy clinic in Edmonton, look for one that offers a comfortable and welcoming environment and has a track record of positive patient outcomes.




If you or someone you know is struggling with a concussion injury, don't hesitate to seek professional help. Contact Reach Physiotherapy + Hand Clinic today to schedule a consultation with our experienced therapists. We provide best in class physiotherapy in Edmonton and specialize in assessing, treating, and managing concussion injuries to help you on the road to recovery. Get in touch with us today and start your rehabilitation journey by filling out our online form or calling us at (587) 635-5258.

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