Concussions occur when an external mechanical force causes brain dysfunction and usually result from a violent blow or jolt to the head or body.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion
- A headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Sensitivity to light or sound
- Sleep disturbances
- Delayed response to questions
- Confusion or brain fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Dizziness, vertigo or “seeing stars”
- Tinnitus aka “Ringing in the ears”
- Nausea and/or Vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Appearing dazed
Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:
Cognitive complaints could consist of:
- Concentration and memory complaints
- Irritability and other personality changes (ideally ask mother or spouse)
- Psychological adjustment problems and depression
- Disorders of taste and smell
Symptoms in children
Head trauma is very common in young children. But concussions can be difficult to recognize in infants and toddlers because they may not be able to describe how they feel. Nonverbal clues of a concussion may include:
- Appearing dazed
- Listlessness and tiring easily
- Irritability and crankiness
- Loss of balance and unsteady walking
- Crying excessively or colic
- Change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Lack of interest in favorite toys
Treatment of Concussion
The best treatment immediately after any concussion is the same as any other injury: REST. Rest has two very important features when it comes to concussion. First, it prevents the brain from being injured any further and secondly, rest allows optimal allocation of resources to all maximal recovery to occur.
COMPLETE PHYSICAL and COGNITIVE REST is prescribed during the initial recovery period. This means: no school, no homework, no texting, no computer/video games, no television, no physical activity until the symptoms of concussion begin to subside. As the symptoms improve a slow introduction of demand may be started.
As you improve a slow and graded rehabilitation can begin. At Physioactive we recommend that sensory and cognitive activities are begun first and then a gradual increase in physical activity, with each stage separated by a period of at least 24 hours. This process must be monitored by a clinician with extensive training in concussion injuries, as there are numerous signs which could delay recovery if not properly addressed. In an ideal world, the patient should have NO SYMPTOMS as these demands are increased. If symptoms are encountered, this is an indication the demands on the brain are too much and should be reduced. The patient should drop back to the previous stage for a 24-hour period before attempting the next stage again. The final stages involve monitored increases in ones physical exertion and to assess blood flow within the brain, as well as extensive testing of neurological, mental and physical systems, to ensure that your brain has recovered and you are safe to return to activity without causing further damage. Most patients will make a quick and full recovery.
Post-concussion syndrome is a clinical term when concussion symptoms that last longer than a week. If the symptoms persist or do not begin to improve, or in some cases, new symptoms can begin, rehabilitation becomes an absolute necessity.
Mild or Minor Traumatic Brain Injury (mTBI)
All concussions are brain injuries. The term mTBI has been used to distinguish between concussions (aka mTBI) and TBI which encompass more severe brain injuries, resulting in paralysis, coma, loss of cognition, memory or other mental and physical functions. Many brain injuries, especially when the person does not lose consciousness, go unnoticed and are never reported… and therefore never treated. Any injury to the brain is serious so we don’t love this definition or terminology at Physioactive.