It is that time of year again – the weather is cooling, leaves are changing colors, school is back in session and football is back! Friday night lights have begun again along with other fall season sports. The U.S.A. loves our football but it has grown to be one of the sports with the highest incidence of concussions. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that 1.6 million to 3.8 million people experience concussions during sports and recreational activities annually in the United States. With newer research regarding the long-term side effects and impacts after sustaining a concussion it is important to know the signs and symptoms related to concussions and proper management of them. Healthcare providers, including PTs, play a pivotal role in caring for children and adults who have suffered a concussion and will provide thorough evaluation of the severity and rehabilitation process in order to safely return to sport or activity.
Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
- Balance and coordination difficulties
- Difficulty sleeping
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Short or long-term memory impairment
- Worsening grades in school
- Mood swings or aggression
- Change in personality or behavior
If you notice any combination of the above symptoms in a child or adult, contact your healthcare provider immediately.
So, what can PTs do for those after a concussion?
PTs will evaluate and treat many problems associated with concussions, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular systems.
Typical treatment may include:
- An initial period of reset and recovery: This will include limiting exposure to screen time (cell phones, TV, computers, etc.), school and/or work tasks, and recreation/sport.
- Addressing balance deficits: Following concussion, common symptoms may include dizziness and balance difficulties. PTs are skilled in addressing vestibular impairments and can help to reduce dizziness and vertigo-like symptoms.
- Re-Introduction of Strengthening: As your concussion symptoms improve your PT will develop an appropriate, gradual return to strengthening and endurance exercises.
- Return to Sport/Recreation: Once concussion symptoms have resolved your PT will help to reintroduce you to your normal daily activities in a safe and controlled way. They will also provide you with the knowledge and skills to help prevent long-lasting side-effects from your injury of future concussions.
Written by: Dr. Cait McBee, PT, DPT