What is the role of PHYSIOTHERAPY in CONCUSSIONS?
Concussions cause a myriad of different symptoms and each patient’s injury is unique. Once diagnosed by our Sports Medicine Physician many patients are referred to Physiotherapy, which has been shown to be beneficial in treating the following symptoms:
- Neck pain
- Headaches (stemming from neck dysfunction)
- Balance problems
Depending on how your concussion occurred there is often a secondary whiplash injury to the neck. This occurs as a result of a direct blow to the head and or body causing the head to move violently, often in multiple directions. Most people have heard of whiplash that occurs in a car accident, but it can also happen in other activities such as sport. When whiplash occurs it can cause injury to the muscles, joints, and nerves which can cause both NECK PAIN and HEADACHES, often at the base of the skull and behind the eyes.
Dizziness and Vertigo
Another secondary issue from a concussion can be a disruption of the vestibular system. The vestibular system is in our inner ear and it is responsible for balance and co-ordination of our eyes and inner ear. When this system is disrupted it can cause DIZZINESS, where a person feels as though they are unsteady or losing balance or VERTIGO, which is a sensation of the room spinning around them. There are some physiotherapists that are specialized in VESTIBULAR THERAPY, which can help with alleviating the symptoms of dizziness and vertigo.
The balance system can be disrupted directly as a result of the injury to the brain but also due to secondary effects on the inner ear, joints in the neck, and the integration of all 3 systems.
Treatment for NECK PAIN and HEADACHES should consist of:
- Education – activities to avoid and activities to focus on
- Manual therapy – hands-on treatment including soft tissue release and joint mobilizations/manipulation to loosen muscles and joints
- Dry needling
- Exercise – stretching and mobility exercises to maintain the improved movement of the neck gained from manual therapy. Strengthening of the neck, upper back and core.
Treatment for DIZZIENSS and VERTIGO should consist of:
- Specialized exercises for the vestibular and visual systems. The physiotherapist should have further training in VESTIBULAR THERAPY in order to treat the vestibular or inner ear system.
- Functional exercises that incorporate components of vestibular and balance exercises.
TAKE HOME MESSAGE
Physiotherapy can have a positive and significant impact on the secondary injuries that go along with a concussion. These secondary issues can cause symptoms like neck pain, headaches, dizziness and, vertigo.
The Advantage Sport Medicine & Physiotherapy team consists of Physiotherapists that are trained in concussion management, manual therapy, and vestibular rehabilitation. They work together within a multidisciplinary team of Sports Medicine Physicians, Neuropsychologists, Athletic Therapists and Kinesiologists to provide an individualized, comprehensive, and evidence-based treatment program.
If you have any questions regarding concussion management or any other musculoskeletal injury feel free to contact our team of health professionals.