Physiotherapy Treatment for Concussions

Physio for Concussion | Enhance Physiotherapy

Physiotherapy treatment for concussions is an essential step in the concussion rehabilitation process. Concussion patients often experience a wide range of symptoms, making it difficult to return to everyday activities.

A physiotherapist can help you focus on your individual symptoms and create a plan tailored to your needs that will help you recover as quickly as possible.

In addition to providing treatment, physiotherapists can offer support and advice throughout your concussion rehabilitation journey.


What is a concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury defined as a complex process affecting the brain caused by external mechanical forces. A concussion is caused by force transmitted to the head or body, which causes movement of brain tissue within the skull.

The high-speed movement of the brain tissue inside and against the skull causes concussion and is not always caused by a direct impact to the head.

Physiotherapy Treatment for Concussions - Enhance Physiotherapy

A concussion can directly impact any part of the body if the impact is significant enough to transmit force to the head and disturb or increase the brain’s movement within the skull.

Whilst most people think head-on collisions and front-on impacts in sports are the most common scenario for a concussion injury- both linear and rotational forces affecting the head or body can cause a concussion.

The amount of force required to cause a concussion varies; therefore, you cannot judge the extent of the concussion by the incident itself.


Causes of a concussion:

  • Linear acceleration caused by: whiplash and direct impact front on, such as a head clash,
  • Vertical acceleration caused by compression: from a direct blow to the top of the head or from landing from a significant fall/jump,
  • Angular acceleration caused by head/neck rotation: a large tackle where your trunk is twisted one way and your head/neck in the opposite direction or a direct impact to the side of the head or body.


Common signs and symptoms of a concussion

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Dizziness
  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Irritability
  • Neck pain
  • Blurred vision
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems
  • Seizures and or convulsions
  • Fatigue /low energy
  • Nervous /anxious
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Feeling foggy
  • Sensitive to light or noise
  • Difficulty concentrating


Related injuries

  • Neck and spinal cord injuries,
  • Facial and skull fractures,
  • Tooth loss and dental fractures,
  • Lacerations,
  • Upper back and abdominal trauma,
  • Ear impairment,
  • Musculoskeletal injuries.


The 5 R’s of concussion management

  1. Recognise the injury
  2. Remove from play (when safe, following DRABCD)
  3. Refer to a Doctor
  4. Rest
  5. Return to Play only when cleared by Doctor. A person with a SUSPECTED concussion must be removed from play immediately. A health professional should assess the player BEFORE returning to play.

Physio for Concussions | Enhance Physiotherapy

Concussion recognition tools

Recognition tools should be used to assess a person with a suspected concussion. There are two recognition tools that can be used which include:

  • Concussion recognition tool 5 (for use by anyone) can be found online through the British Journal of Sports Medicine for free download and use.
  • SCAT 5 is used by licensed health professionals only.


Physiotherapy treatment for a concussion

A physiotherapist can differentiate the various causes of symptoms after a thorough concussion assessment that includes several concussion tests. Implementing your concussion management treatment plan would then focus on different symptom areas.


Effects of a concussion on the cervical spine

If a concussion injury has affected the neck or spine, a physiotherapist can assist with:

  • Neck muscle strengthening.
  • Manual therapy is used to ensure that the joints are moving freely.
  • Myofascial release techniques are used to ensure that the surrounding soft tissue is mobile.


Vestibular problems following a concussion

Balance training can help with vestibular problems such as dizziness or imbalance.

Repositioning of the canalith, a head manoeuvre to move the ear crystals to an area of your inner ear that eases dizziness.


Visual disturbances following a concussion

If a concussion affects vision, ocular reflex training can be prescribed to improve visual motor control and reduce visual disturbances.


Exertion problems following a concussion

As part of a concussion management plan, exercise prescriptions should include incremental progressions of individually tailored exercises if exertion is a problem.


Post-concussion complications

  • Impaired performance.
  • Increased risk of injury on return to play.
  • 5-10% suffer prolonged symptoms (post-concussion syndrome).


What is post-concussion syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome is defined as the “arbitrary persistence of symptoms beyond normal” following a concussion, whereas a concussion usually results in a spontaneous resolution of symptoms.

It appears to be more likely if the initial concussion is severe or poorly managed. Post-concussion syndrome can include persistent headaches or fatigue, dizziness, and mood or sleep disturbance.

Physio for Concussions | Enhance Physiotherapy


Final thoughts on Physiotherapy Treatment For Concussions

If you or someone you know has recently suffered from a concussion, be sure to contact one of our experienced physiotherapists for assistance.

Our Physiotherapists at Enhance Physiotherapy can assist you with a “Graduated Return to Sport Strategy” to assist you with returning to sport post-concussion.

And remember, “If in doubt, sit them out”.

 Book an appointment with one of our highly qualified physiotherapists at Enhance Physio before starting a rehabilitation program. We can advise you on the best course of action for your condition.



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