Experiencing a concussion, otherwise known as a mild traumatic brain injury or MTBI, is a fairly common occurrence. In the U.S. alone, over 3 million people annually will experience some type of blow that results in a concussion. Understanding the symptoms associated with having a concussion, as well as learning about the different types of treatments available, are important steps on the road to recovery.
Symptoms of Concussion
Vehicular accidents, sports injuries, slip and fall accidents, domestic abuse — all of these events can result in a person receiving a significant blow to the head or experiencing a violent shaking of the upper body and/or head area. Immediately after one of these episodes or sometimes hours later, an individual may experience a wide variety of symptoms.
Symptoms include pain, “seeing stars”, dizziness, headaches, and/or a loss of balance. Blurred vision, nausea and/or vomiting, migraines, ringing in the ears, and fatigue are all potential symptoms of a concussion as well. Some individuals may also experience problems with memory and/or concentration, amnesia, slurred speech, sensitivity to light and noise, personality changes, and depression. In rare cases, an individual may lose consciousness after receiving a concussion.
Given the significant number of symptoms, a person can experience, anyone who exhibits any unusual symptom(s) after a blow and/or a violent shaking of the head or upper body region should seek medical attention and undergo evaluation for a potential brain injury.
Different Types of Injury
The types of symptoms a patient may exhibit whether emotional, cognitive, or physical, such as vestibular, cervical, or ocular are often directly traced back to the mechanism of injury or MOI. There are four main mechanisms of traumatic brain injury:
- Direct impact
- Sudden acceleration and deceleration
- Penetrating Injury
- Blast Injury
A direct impact injury involves a direct blow to the head. Sudden acceleration and deceleration can occur with violent shaking or through a violent “back and forth” motion of the head, such that would occur during a vehicle whiplash injury. Especially in the case of a vehicle accident, some people may experience a penetrating head injury from some form of projectile or a bone fragment. Although blast injuries are rare, they can occur after an explosion involving chemicals or fire.
While some individuals may only have a mild concussion that resolves itself with a few days or weeks of rest, along with over-the-counter medications for pain relief, other concussions can be quite severe. Patients may have symptoms even a year after the episode that led to their concussion.
How Physical Therapy Can Help A Concussion
The type and severity of a patient’s head injury play a significant role in determining what type of treatments a physical therapist will use during a patient’s recovery period. Individuals with ringing in the ears and/or balance issues may require exercises to retrain their brain’s vestibular system to once again function properly. Other patients may benefit from cervical manual manipulation techniques designed to mitigate the effects of whiplash symptoms. Others may require eye exercises that will allow the brain’s ocular systems to recover.
A Supportive Environment
Depending upon the severity of their symptoms, some patients may wonder whether physical therapy treatments can help them regain their former abilities. The good news is that physical therapists are well-trained to help their patients show significant improvements in their physical, mental, and emotional abilities.
Physical therapists understand the road to recovery can take some time. They offer not just their professional expertise but a warm, caring environment where patients can feel comfortable sharing their concerns.
If you or someone you know is experiencing symptoms from a concussion, we can help! Please contact Cawley Physical Therapy and Rehab at 570-208-2787.