What is a concussion?
At present, there is no universally accepted definition of concussion. Concussion is condition associated with a sudden blow to the head, with or without a loss of consciousness following. It is considered a form of traumatic brain injury.
What happens after a concussion?
Concussion can result in multiple neurological symptoms and signs. In a sporting sense, you may be familiar with players becoming acutely disoriented and visually disturbed following a concussion. Balance, coordination and ordered thinking are affected and this effect can last from seconds to days following.
This latent effect is particularly dangerous in contact sports, and once players become concussed they are more likely to develop second impact syndrome which exacerbates their symptoms as their brain is already more vulnerable. This can be potentially life threatening.
The most common symptoms are:
- Dizziness and loss of balance
- Difficulty concentrating
- Confusion and disorientation
- Sensitivity to light or other visual disturbance
These symptoms can last days and even months following the day of impact, and can severely reduce a person’s quality of life.
How can neurological physiotherapy help?
Firstly, a neurological physiotherapist can perform a detailed assessment to determine the areas affected by the concussion. Through perceptive listening, observing body language and movement habits, a lot of relevant information can be gathered.
This is done in conjunction with an battery of clinical tests which observe and assess visual disturbances, dizziness, balance, reaction times and coordination.
As with all effective therapy, constructing a suitable environment and grading the task is critical in getting the recovery process right. There is also some evidence on the use of graded cardiovascular exercise program in this population in later stages to help treat some of the symptoms such as headache and vision.
Another important consideration are the surrounding structures that may have been impacted as well, such as the neck. Predominant neck injury can also cause headaches seen in concussion syndromes, as well as influencing input into the brain’s vestibular system and sense of verticality.
Teamwork with others
Psychology input is often invaluable because of potential changes to personality, coping mechanisms and personality, on top of the obvious challenges to memory and concentration. Psychologists with an interest in concussion are highly skilled at prescribing cognitive rest which allows time for the brain to recover from its normal duties and can help to reduce symptom duration.
Sleep and Rest
Sleep is another area that can be disrupted. Some people complain of immense fatigue throughout the day, and requiring more sleep, while others find it hard to fall asleep. This is especially is more common in people with ringing in their ears (known as tinnitus) or have a persistent headache. At this time further medical intervention may be required to control those symptoms to ensure more restorative sleep.
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