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Concussions and Physical Therapy

As our kids become more active and youth sports become more competitive, concussions are becoming very prevalent among kids and teens. Luckily, coaches and sideline staff are trained to recognize the signs of a concussion and are taking action to prevent and treat concussions on the field. Athletes are being encouraged to sit out plays, games, and practices when a concussion is suspected. Rest is necessary after a concussion to allow the brain to heal; however, sometimes it isn’t enough to return the athlete to “normal”. Many times a concussion can have lingering effects including dizziness, difficulty concentrating, headaches, memory loss, and difficulty reading. This can carry over into personal life and academics and can significantly impact quality of life.

How can physical therapy help?

First, lets learn about what happens when a person sustains a concussion. Our brain is housed inside our skull and the skull is meant to protect the brain. However, the brain is not “snug” in the skull, it is allowed a little “wiggle room” so that it has room to swell if needed and does not become compressed. In the instance that we hit our head or sustain a whiplash injury, our brain “rattles around” in our skull and basically becomes bruised and swollen. Any impact to the brain is categorized as a brain injury. Our brain has the ability to heal just like our joints and muscles; and just like the rest of our bodies, it needs rest and specialized treatment to fully recover.

What would a physical therapist do?

Your visit with a PT would start with a comprehensive evaluation and examination to determine what functional deficits are present. We would then develop a treatment plan to address these deficits. Physical therapy can help address memory, cognition, visual deficits, dizziness, neck pain, headaches and most other functional deficits frequently present after a concussion. Treatment will include manual therapy to address soft tissue limitations and joint mechanics; therapeutic exercise to address posture; neuromuscular reeducation to address balance, dizziness, cognitive deficits, and visual field changes.

If you suspect that you or your child has sustained a concussion, please call our office to schedule an evaluation.

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