You or a loved one might suffer a concussion at some point in your life. Unlike most injuries, ones that affect the brain are often unpredictable and especially dangerous. For these reasons, you must seek medical attention if you believe you have suffered a concussion. Below, we explain what this injury is, its symptoms, how it is diagnosed, and what a physical therapist (PT) can do to treat it.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury that generally occurs due to extraordinary impact to the head. Often, that force is so great that your brain hits the skull, causing severe damage. The most common causes of this condition are auto collisions, workplace accidents, sports, playground incidents, falls, and violence from another person.
Signs and Symptoms
The following are the typical symptoms that come after concussions. If you notice any of them in yourself or a loved one, you should seek medical attention right away.
- Physical – These symptoms are the most common and are your best tool in concussion recognition. They include headaches, loss of balance, fatigue, sleep issues, increased sensitivity, blurred vision, and dizziness.
- Cognitive – You will also experience thinking difficulties like memory loss, confusion, dizziness, and lack of focus.
- Emotional – This group includes emotions like irritability, depression, anxiety, mood swings, restlessness, and aggression.
- Long Term – Most of the issues listed above only affect you in the short term. Unfortunately, some consequences don’t go away so quickly. They are loss of libido, weight gain, fatigue, and general weakness.
How They are Diagnosed
The diagnosis of concussions is not as straightforward as most medical issues because your brain is hard to access and this type of injury is not detectable using MRI and similar methods. The result is that your diagnosis will be based on your symptoms. For this reason, you should always tell the doctor everything you’re feeling and all of the details about your accident.
How a Physical Therapist Can Help
- Prescribing a Rest and Recovery Program – The best way to treat a concussion is through resting. That being said, you must do so in a way that is conducive to recovery. Your PT will know the perfect balance between rest and activity that will help you recover.
- Restore Strength – After you take some time off from exercise and daily life, you will find that your body is weaker than it was before. Not only will this decrease your quality of life, but it will put you at risk of another injury. Your therapist will protect you against this outcome by helping you exercise correctly once you are able to.
- Improve Balance – One of the top risks of concussions is loss of balance. First, this symptom makes your life harder, as it keeps you from working and living the way you normally do. Second, it puts you at risk of reinjuring your head. Having back to back concussions is incredibly dangerous, so you should do everything you can to avoid a second one.
- Lessening Headaches – Physical therapists have a variety of tools at their disposal for reducing pain. For your head, they might use ice, heat, exercises, or targeted massage to help ease your discomfort. Headaches are often debilitating for concussion victims, so this service is vital.
- Getting You Back to Your Life – The key to a successful recovery is moving at the right pace. An experienced PT will know precisely when to push you harder and when to give you more rest. The result will be getting your life back as quickly and safely as possible.
Though concussions are serious injuries, they are not the end of the world. Instead, you have a variety of tools that you can use to treat yourself and get better. One of them is seeing a physical therapist, who can be integral in your path towards recovery.