What is a Concussion?
A concussion is classified as a mild traumatic brain injury; however, just because it is classified as “mild” doesn’t mean that its effects are not serious. A common misconception is that a person must lose consciousness after a bump, jolt, or blow to the head in order for the injury to be classified as a concussion. This is not true-- as less than 10% of concussions involve a loss of consciousness and a rapid change in movement of the head such as whiplash can result in a concussion as well. It can be challenging to recognize and diagnose a concussion as it involves a chemical imbalance in the brain and stretch injury to brain cells rather than a structural change that can be seen on an MRI or CT imaging.
Concussions can also be challenging to manage as symptoms are individualized and impact physical, mental, and emotional well-being. Symptoms experienced after sustaining a concussion can include:
- Slowed thinking
- Difficulty remembering
- Difficulty concentrating
- Mood swings
- Fuzzy or blurry vision
- Balance problems
- Noise or light sensitivity
- Trouble falling asleep
- Sleeping more or less than usual
It is extremely important to take precautions to avoid a second concussion while your brain is still healing from the first concussion in order to avoid second-impact syndrome which can result in permanent brain damage or death. This is why it is crucial that athletes suspected of sustaining a concussion be removed from play until evaluated and cleared by a medical professional.
Most people sustaining a first time concussion will recover within weeks, however those with history of prior concussions, eye tracking issues from childhood, migraines, ADHD, or a learning disability will likely require a longer recovery time. Rest is vital in the early stages of recovery from a concussion in order to allow your brain to heal. Trying to “push through” this type of injury will only exacerbate your symptoms and prolong recovery time.
There are many things you can do to aid your recovery including:
- Getting plenty of sleep and sticking to regular sleep and wake times on weekdays and weekends
- Limit screen time, especially within one hour of bed time
- Taking naps or set aside quiet time “brain breaks” throughout the day as needed
- Avoiding strenuous physical and thinking/concentrating activities that may exacerbate symptoms
- As symptoms decrease at rest, gradually start to return to usual daily activities. Reduce activity if symptoms worsen and then try again to slowly increase activities
- Avoid drinking alcohol and instead drink plenty of fluids and eat at regular intervals to maintain appropriate blood sugar levels
- Talk to your doctor about taking vitamin B12 and magnesium supplements
If you have recently suffered from a Concussion and have received treatment from your Physician but are still wondering if you might benefit from Physical Therapy, use the link below to Request an Appointment with our Concussion Management Specialist.