Physical Therapist’s Guide to Concussions

By Western Berks on May 25th, 2018

A traumatic brain injury causing lasting effects

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can cause lasting effects on brain tissue and change the chemical balance of the brain. Concussions may cause physical, cognitive, and behavioral symptoms and problems, both short-term and long-term. Every concussion is considered a serious injury by health care providers. If you have experienced a head injury, seek medical help immediately. 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. These numbers may be underestimated, as many cases are likely never reported. There is a common misconception that a concussion must be accompanied by a “black out”, but less than 10% of concussions involve a loss of consciousness.  A physical therapist can assess symptoms to determine if a concussion is present, and treat the injury by guiding the patient through a safe and individualized recovery program. Symptoms of a concussion can be both complex and subtle, with some symptoms appearing immediately while others, days or even weeks later. Read on to see the symptoms you should watch for in anyone who has suffered a blow to the head.

 

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Physical symptoms can include:

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty with balance
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Increased sleepiness
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light and sound
  • Slurred speech
  • Glassy-eyed stare
  • Seizures

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Cognitive (thinking) symptoms can include:

  • Difficulty with short-term or long-term memory
  • Confusion
  • Slowed “processing” (eg, a decreased ability to think through problems)
  • “Fogginess”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Worsening grades in school

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Emotional symptoms can include:

  • Irritability
  • Restlessness
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Mood swings
  • Aggression
  • Decreased tolerance of stress
  • Change in personality or behavior

 

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Longer-term symptoms can include:

  • Fatigue
  • Weight gain
  • Low blood pressure
  • Muscle weakness
  • Chronic headaches or dizziness
  • Muscle spasticity
  • Early dementia
  • Loss of libido
  • Loss of menstruation
  • Growth problems (children)

 

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Western Berks Physical Therapy has expanded its professional and expert service in patient care with a growing concern for those who have suffered from a concussion. Because every concussion is different, neurological, orthopedic, and cardiovascular systems will be examined in order to best prescribe a routine to address your particular symptoms and needs in all of your daily activities. Call immediately if you have concussion symptoms!