Concussions & Whiplash

About concussions

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries (TBI) usually caused by a hit to the head with enough force to injure the brain. In rare cases, excessive shaking of the head or upper body can also cause a non-contact concussion. Symptoms for a concussion typically resolve after 10-14 days. Loss of consciousness indicates a more severe concussion and if incurred, it is recommended to seek medical attention.

It is important to mention that incurring a second concussion before the first one has healed, also known as second-impact syndrome (SIS), can cause rapid brain swelling. For SIS, the severity of concussions does not matter, two mild concussions will likely lead to permanent disability and put you at high risk for death. This is why it is extremely important to fully recover from the first concussion.

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is when symptoms from a concussion linger for approximately 3 months or longer. Repetitive head trauma and greater symptom severity at the presentation of a concussion puts you at more risk for PCS. With therapy, education, and reassurance, PCS can be resolved.

Signs and Symptoms

1. Headache or dizziness

2. Ringing in the Ears

3. Nausea or Vomitting

4. Fatigue or drowsiness

5. Blurry Vision or light sensitivity

6. difficulty remembering the traumatic event

6. Whiplash

symptoms that may persist

1. Brain fog

2. Fatigue

3. difficulty concentrating and finding words

4. Dazed appearance

5. Sensitivity to bright lights and loud noises

6. difficulty Sleeping

7. Anxiety or depression

What to do after a concussion

If you experienced loss of consciousness, prolonged confusion, seizures, numbness/tingling in the upper extremity, or vomiting, visit the emergency department.

Take it easy for the first 24-48 hours to help the brain heal and prevent further injury.

Begin progressing your physical and mental capabilities while staying below your symptom-exacerbation threshold.

How does physiotherapy Help Concussions?

Individualized Management

Every concussion is unique and should be evaluated individually. It is recommended to see a concussion management specialist in a timely fashion to ensure proper recovery. During the assessment, your therapist will monitor your function, and educate and work with you to ensure safe return to your lifestyle. Successful treatment requires treatments that target each symptom and prevent recurrence. Your therapist will work with you to set goals, provide treatments, and home exercises.

Management Strategies

Balance and coordination are critical for maintaining functional mobility and preventing injuries in daily life. It is important for stable posture and controlled movement.

Use of techniques like manual therapy, massage, ultrasound, acupuncture, and exercises to help relieve these symptoms.

Use of cognitive exercises such as memory games and attention training reduce brain fog and improve concentration.

Your therapist will create individualized progressive exercise programs that will aid in safe return to normal activities.

Involves recognizing the signs and symptoms, how to avoid reinjury, and how to manage symptoms at home.

What is Whiplash?

Whiplash is an injury to the neck caused by a sudden, forceful movement of the head. It is characterized by symptoms such as neck pain and stiffness, headaches, and dizziness. In severe cases, it can also cause nerve damage, muscle spasms, and difficulty concentrating. Most whiplash injuries result from a collision that includes sudden acceleration or deceleration.

The amount of force required for whiplash is 4.5g. For a concussion, it is 60-160g. Therefore, it is extremely common for concussions to present with whiplash. 

How does physiotherapy Help Whiplash?

During the assessment, your therapist will determine the extent of structures affected by your whiplash injury. They will provide treatments, prescribe exercises, and educate you on how to recover from your injury.