Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can occur when the head is suddenly and forcefully hit, or when the body is violently shaken. In either case the brain injury is caused by rapid movement of the head.
A concussion can range from mild to severe, and can cause a variety of physical, cognitive, emotional, and behavioral symptoms. It’s important to recognize the signs and symptoms of concussions so that you can seek medical attention as soon as possible if needed.
In this blog post we will discuss common signs of concussion, what to do if you suspect one has occurred, and how to reduce your risk for future concussions.
Signs and Symptoms of Concussions
The signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person. Some may appear immediately after the injury, while others may take hours or days to show up. Signs and symptoms should always be assessed by an experienced medical professional who is trained in diagnosing concussion-related injuries. Common signs and symptoms of concussion can include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Dizziness or balance problems
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Blurred vision
- Difficulty concentrating, remembering, or making decisions
- Sleep disturbances (sleeping more or less than usual)
- Slowness in thinking, acting, speaking, or reading
- Irritability and other changes in mood
If you are experiencing any of the above signs and symptoms after a blow to the head or body, it is important that you seek medical attention.
The sooner a concussion is diagnosed and treated, the better. Even if you think that your injury was not enough to cause a concussion, we recommend an assessment because neck injuries can also cause a number of similar symptoms to concussion injuries and these two very commonly co-exist and are thus treated at the same time.
What to Do if You Suspect a Concussion
If you suspect that you have suffered a concussion, please call your doctor and please call us at Parkway where we place the highest priority on getting this patient into the clinic as quickly as possible, usually the next day.
The person should be monitored for changes in their condition and immediate medical care should be sought if any of the signs or symptoms worsen. Treatment for a concussion may involve rest, medication, physical and cognitive therapy, balance and vision rehabilitation and in some cases, even surgery. It is important to follow the healthcare provider’s instructions closely in order to ensure the best possible outcome.
Parkway has partnered with CAP Health to provide south Vancouver Island with access to the Brain Repair Protocol. This amazing evidence based tool combines your symptom profile with test results that use small vibrations to test various brain functions.
This image shows an example of the brain testing results that we can use to better assess brain function after a concussion injury:
According to these test results we can better tailor a concussion rehabilitation program for you.
Reducing Your Risk of Future Concussions
When someone is recovering from a concussion injury they are more susceptible to a second concussion. A second injury can have greater health impacts and can occur at an even lower force than the initial one.
This means that returning to sport, work and life decisions should be made with as much information as possible. When you partner with us at Parkway, we will communicate with you and your physician so that you can take the necessary steps to making the most informed decision possible before returning to normal life.
We work to ensure that your neck function is restored so that excessive head movements are better controlled, that your head and eyes are functioning together properly (Vestibulo-Occular Motor Screening), testing your balance and agility, ramping up your heart rate, assessing your reflexes and, when required, ensuring that you have access to mental health professionals and resources.
The best way to protect yourself from future concussions is to take precautions and be aware of potential risks.
Parkway Physiotherapy has partnered with CAP Health to provide an evidence based concussion risk tool that is based on neck function. This test is called the RAM4 test and it is the world’s only evidence based concussion prevention tool. By understanding your neck size, strength and reflex function, we can help to prevent concussion injuries from ever happening and also make better and safer return to sport decisions. This is often the final test we use before making a return to sport decision.
This is an example of an athlete we saw who was recovering from his concussion well and was given a green light to return to sport despite a recent work related neck injury. You will see that his strength improved in some areas but decreased in the spots where his neck was injured. Reflex time actually worsened. We held off for a few more weeks and worked on neck function and this individual made safe and uneventful return to competition:
Another concussion prevention tool is to wear the proper safety equipment at all times and follow any safety instructions provided by your employer. If your sport requires a helmet, make sure it fits correctly. If mouth guards are available…wear it! In workplaces with risk of falls and other mechanisms of brain injury, use the safety harnesses and other tools provided and follow the correct usage for these tools. We’ve often heard it said that an ounce of prevention equals a pound of cure; if that saying is even close to true then in the world of concussions an ounce of prevention equals 2 pounds of cure!
Be mindful of your surroundings and watch out for potential hazards that can increase the risk of falls.
Finally, ensure that you have rehabilitated ALL the areas affected by your concussion. This might include ensuring that your agility and balance are trained. Perhaps it is your neck function, eye function, inner ear function, reaction time, cardiovascular ability, mental health, and any combination of these depending on your individual needs.
Complete Concussion Care in Langford, Sooke, and Parkway
Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that should always be taken seriously and should involve a team treatment approach involving the patient, their doctor, an experienced concussion clinician, and the right tool.
If you suffer from any symptoms after a blow to the head or body, seek medical attention right away. Recognizing the symptoms and signs of a concussion is an important first step in taking action to protect yourself and your loved ones.
Use the right tools to fully assess your neck function and brain function after a concussion injury and before returning to life, sport or work.
If you have any further questions or concerns about concussions, speak to one of our Parkway team members specializing in concussion injuries. They will be able to provide guidance and advice that is tailored to your individual situation.
By following these steps, you can reduce your risk for future concussions and ensure that an existing concussion is treated quickly and thoroughly.