Head: Concussion


A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury that involves a complex pathophysiological response in the brain. No bleeding or bruising of the brain occurs. A concussion affects the way the brain functions and processes sensory information, emotions, behaviors, balance, memory and learning. This is referred to as a “functional injury” not a “structural injury.”

A concussion is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the head and brain to rapidly move back and forth in a linear or rotational manner. Symptoms of a concussion often include: headache, dizziness, confusion, imbalance, and visual disturbance. Athletes that suspect a concussion should immediately discontinue play and be seen by a health care provider who specializes in the management of sport related concussion for evaluation and guidance about return to sport.

TRIA Sport Concussion Program is the only multi-disciplinary concussion program specializing specifically in return to sport and physical activity in the region. Our team of specialists are committed to providing the best concussion care based on the latest scientific research and evidence-based studies. The collaboration of physicians, neuropsychologists, physical therapists and athletic trainers all in one location, working together to develop individualized and active treatment plans for each athlete is one of the many unique aspects of the program. 




Signs and symptoms of an Concussion may include:
  • Signs of a Concussion Include: loss of consciousness, memory loss (amnesia) surrounding the incident; confusion, disorientation, and/or balance problems
  • No two concussions are alike. Symptoms can vary in presentation and time of onset among individuals. Concussions can cause physical, sleep, cognitive, and mood related symptoms.
  • PHYSICAL: headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, light/noise sensitivity, balance problems, blurred or double vision
  • SLEEP: difficulties with falling or staying asleep, drowsiness/fatigue, sleeping more or less than usual
  • COGNITIVE: feeling slowed down, mental fogginess, forgetfulness, difficulties concentrating, confusion
  • MOOD: irritability, sadness, anxious mood, feeling more emotional
  • Some symptoms of concussion may be subtle or have a delayed onset.
  • Symptoms can last for days, weeks, or even longer. Recovery times vary for each individual.
Self-Care

During the initial period of time following a concussion, it is often recommended to increase rest and restrict activities that can stress the brain or body. Examples include: limiting screen time (computer, video games, television, and cell phone), homework and testing modifications, and avoiding heavy, exertional exercise. In some cases, it is advised to hold the individual from school or work until symptoms decrease. Concussions are a complex injury and no two concussions are alike. It is best to discuss self-management with a healthcare professional trained in concussion management to develop an individualized treatment plan specifically for you.

Physical Therapy

Some concussions require more than rest to recover. Active treatment approaches have been developed to help alleviate symptoms and safely return individuals back to their active lifestyle. Physical Therapists specifically trained in the management of concussion through vestibular and ocular motor rehabilitation are able to treat symptoms of dizziness, imbalance, motion discomfort, mental fogginess, and visual disturbance. Physical therapists are also able to address and cervical spine pathology

Exertion Training and Return-to-Play

Never return to play if you are still experiencing symptoms. Once symptom free, gradual return to physical activity is important. There are sports specific return to play protocols that athletes must progress through to be cleared back to sport participation. Physical therapist and athletic trainers can guide the athlete through these progressions appropriately and monitor for any symptoms or difficulties. Gradual return to physical activity under the guidance of an appropriate trained professional becomes especially important for athletes with post-traumatic vestibular dysfunction (i.e., difficulties with movement, motion, balance), as they need to expose the vestibular system in a careful and deliberate way back to dynamic activities.

Medications

After a concussion, it is best to speak with your physician before taking any medication. Some individuals may require medications during their recovery from concussion. For example, medications may be indicated for individuals who experience decreased cognitive performance, sleep disturbance, mood concerns, or post-traumatic migraine.