Concussions have been a growing topic of concern in sports. A concussion can happen in any sport or recreational activity. It is important for coaches, parents and athletes to learn the signs and symptoms of concussions and what to do if one occurs.
What is a concussion?
- A concussion is a brain injury
- It is caused by a blow to the head, a jolt to the body, or any sudden force that results in the brain crashing into the skull
- The terms "ding" or "getting your bell rung" minimize concussions, even what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious
- Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness
What are the symptoms?
You cannot see a concussion. Therefore, it can be very difficult to determine whether or not someone has a concussion. Symptoms do not always appear right away. They may not become present for hours, days, weeks or months and can last for just as long. Some people do not always recognize or admit that they are having symptoms of a concussion.
Symptoms of a concussion generally fall into four categories:
Thinking and Remembering
Emotional and Mood
If someone may have sustained a concussion, they should be examined by a medical professional (Physician, EMT, or Athletic Trainer). Sometimes a hospital stay for monitoring is recommended, otherwise most people are sent home for monitoring. Contact a medical professional or emergency department right away if you are monitoring someone or someone exhibits the following danger signs after bump, blow or jolt to the body.
- Headache that gets worse and does not go away
- Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
- Repeated vomiting or nausea
- Slurred speech
- Extreme drowsiness or someone who cannot be awakened
- Convulsions or seizures
- Problem recognizing people or places
- Increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation
- Loss of consciousness
Individuals who have sustained a concussion should rest and avoid activity that could potentially increase their symptoms:
- Overly active activity including exercise
- Physical Education class
- Extended computer use
- Prolonged Reading
- Watching TV or playing video games
When an individual is ready to return to activity they should consult with their physician or Certified Athletic Trainer about specific return to play protocols.
In rare cases, mostly in adolescents, if someone returns to activity before being completely symptom free of a concussion and sustains then another blow to the head, they could suffer from a very serious condition called Second Impact Syndrome. Second Impact Syndrome can cause severe brain injury and can be fatal. It is important for any individual that may have sustained a concussion to be fully evaluated and cleared by the appropriate medical professional.
Physical Therapy Can Help
A physical therapist can help treat post concussion syndrome by designing an individualized rehabilitation program.
- Evaluation: Your physical therapist will take the time to talk with you and perform a thorough examination of your condition.
- Therapy: Your physical therapist will work with your physician to plan a treatment program suited to your individual condition, which will involve exercises for your balance, vision, inner ear and more in order to restore brain function.
- Teaching: Our therapists will spend time reviewing information with you regarding your diagnosis and progress as well as answering your questions. We believe in empowering our patients to make a lifelong impact on their health.
- Return to Sport: Your physical therapist will guide through a stepwise protocol and monitor your symptoms throughout the process. They will work with your physician and school athletic trainer to help you make a safe return to play.