Signs Of Concussion
Concussions have garnered more and more attention in recent years, primarily due to their prevalence in sports and the potential long-term consequences they can pose. However, concussions are not limited to athletes. They can happen to anyone following accidents, falls, or sudden impacts to the head. Recognizing the signs and symptoms of a concussion is crucial, as prompt identification and appropriate care can make all the difference in recovery.
To shed light on the signs of concussion, Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy Clinic is delving into the immediate and delayed symptoms, age-specific considerations, and the importance of seeking medical attention. By understanding concussions better, patients, parents, coaches, and healthcare clinicians can take proactive steps to ensure proper care and minimize the risk of complications. For more information, book a consultation with our physiotherapy team in Edmonton, AB.
What Happens In A Concussion?
Unlike more severe traumatic brain injuries, concussions typically do not involve structural damage to the brain. Instead, they result from the brain moving rapidly back and forth inside the skull, causing chemical changes and disrupting normal brain function.
Concussions can occur in various settings, from sports fields and playgrounds to car accidents and household mishaps. Their causes are diverse, but common scenarios include collisions, falls, and blunt force trauma to the head. It's crucial to recognize that concussions affect people of all ages, and gender does not play a significant role in susceptibility.
Recognizing The Signs And Symptoms Of A Concussion
So what are the signs of a concussion? Well, since no two concussion injuries are the same, the signs and symptoms vary from person to person. Immediate signs are often evident shortly after the injury, but delayed symptoms may not manifest until hours or even days later. Recognizing these delayed signs is critical for ensuring proper care and monitoring, as they can indicate the severity of the concussion.
Immediate Signs of Concussion
Some common immediate signs of concussion include:
- Loss of Consciousness: One of the most well-known signs of a concussion is a brief loss of consciousness. However, it's important to note that not all concussions involve loss of consciousness. In fact, the majority do not. Loss of consciousness, if it occurs, is typically brief and lasts for only a few seconds or minutes.
- Memory Loss: Another hallmark of concussion is memory loss regarding the event leading to the injury. Individuals may struggle to remember what happened immediately before or after the impact, which is known as anterograde amnesia.
- Dizziness and Balance Problems: Concussion can disrupt the brain's ability to maintain balance, leading to feelings of dizziness and unsteadiness. These symptoms may persist for some time after the injury.
- Nausea and Vomiting: Feeling nauseous or vomiting shortly after a head injury can be indicative of a concussion. This occurs due to the brain's response to the injury and can be accompanied by a general feeling of unease.
- Sensory Disturbances: Some individuals with concussions experience sensory disturbances, such as blurred vision or ringing in the ears (tinnitus). These sensations can be unsettling and disorienting.
Delayed Signs and Symptoms
Some common delayed signs of concussion include:
- Headache and Pressure in the Head: Headaches following a concussion are common and can vary in intensity. They may persist for an extended period and worsen with physical or mental exertion.
- Cognitive Difficulties: Concussion can lead to cognitive challenges, such as confusion, difficulty concentrating, and memory problems. Individuals may find it challenging to complete tasks that were once routine.
- Mood Changes: Mood swings are another hallmark of concussion. Irritability, depression, and anxiety can all be exacerbated by the injury, making it crucial to monitor changes in emotional well-being.
- Sleep Disturbances: Both insomnia and excessive sleepiness can occur as a result of concussion. Sleep disturbances can further exacerbate other symptoms and hinder the healing process.
- Sensitivity to Light and Noise: Many individuals with concussions become sensitive to light (photophobia) and noise (phonophobia). Bright lights and loud sounds can intensify their discomfort and exacerbate symptoms like headaches and nausea.
Special Considerations For Athletes
Athletes in contact sports like football and soccer or non-contact sports like gymnastics and cheerleading are at an increased risk of experiencing concussions. Due to the competitive nature of sports and the potential for head impacts, it's essential to understand the signs and symptoms for women and men in sports. Special considerations needed for athletes may include:
- “No Pain No Gain” Mindset: Athletes often downplay their injuries to stay in the game. Coaches, trainers, and medical personnel should be vigilant in recognizing signs, as athletes may be reluctant to report their symptoms.
- Support of Coaches and Teammates: Coaches and teammates play a pivotal role in monitoring athletes for signs of concussion. Coaches should receive training in recognizing these signs and should have protocols in place for assessing and addressing potential injuries.
- Return-to-Play Guidelines and Protocols: Athletes should not return to play until they have been properly evaluated and cleared by a medical professional. Strict return-to-play guidelines help ensure the safety of athletes and prevent the risk of second-impact syndrome, a severe condition that can occur when a second concussion occurs before the first has fully healed.
Signs And Symptoms Of Concussion In Younger Age Groups
The signs of concussion for a baby may manifest differently from the signs of a concussion in a child. Recognizing concussion signs in children and adolescents can be challenging, as they may struggle to articulate their symptoms. However, it is crucial as their developing brains may require additional support and monitoring during the recovery process.
Here are some signs to watch for in younger populations:
- Behavioural Changes: Children and adolescents may exhibit changes in behaviour following a concussion. This can include increased irritability, mood swings, or changes in social interactions.
- Changes in Eating and Sleeping Patterns: A concussion can disrupt a child's normal eating and sleeping routines. Watch for changes in appetite and sleep quality, as these can provide clues to their well-being.
- Difficulty in School or Extracurricular Activities: For adolescents, academic performance and participation in extracurricular activities may suffer after a concussion. Pay attention to any changes in academic performance or withdrawal from activities they once enjoyed.
Seeking Medical Attention
Recognizing the signs of concussion is just the first step. Timely medical input is essential for optimal recovery. While many concussions can be managed with rest and home care, some may require more intensive treatment, assessments, and imaging. Consult a medical professional after a suspected concussion, especially for:
- Loss of Consciousness: If an individual loses consciousness, even briefly, after a head injury, it's essential to seek immediate medical attention. This could indicate a more severe brain injury.
- Seizures: Seizures following a concussion are a rare but serious complication. Medical attention is necessary if seizures occur.
- Persistent or Worsening Symptoms: If concussion symptoms persist or worsen over time, it's crucial to consult a healthcare provider. This includes persistent headaches, vomiting, cognitive difficulties, or mood changes.
- Symptoms in Young Children: Parents should consult a healthcare professional for signs of concussion in children and signs of concussion in babies, even if the symptoms seem mild. Developing brains may require special attention.
- Multiple Concussions: If an individual has a history of multiple concussions, they should seek medical attention for any subsequent head injuries, as repeated concussions can have cumulative effects and may require specialized care.
Physiotherapy For Concussions
Physiotherapy is a crucial component of concussion management that focuses on the physical aspects of recovery. It aims to alleviate symptoms, restore functional capacity, and ensure a safe return to daily activities, work, school, and sports. The key goals of physiotherapy for concussions include:
- Symptom Management: Physiotherapists work to alleviate common concussion symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, balance problems, and neck pain through specialized exercises and interventions. These may include vestibular rehabilitation therapy designed to reduce vertigo and improve balance. It could also include massage, exercise therapy, and re-conditioning.
- Restoring Functional Capacity: Concussions can disrupt a person's ability to perform daily tasks, affecting mobility, balance, and coordination. Physiotherapy helps individuals regain these essential functions. They may work with occupational therapists who assess the home and daily activities to promote a return to normal life as fast as possible.
- Preventing Complications: By addressing physical deficits and promoting safe and controlled reintegration into activities, physiotherapy can help prevent secondary complications and the development of post-concussion syndrome.
- Optimizing Recovery: Physiotherapy aims to facilitate the body's natural healing processes and improve overall recovery outcomes. This includes addressing issues like sleep disturbances and fatigue.
- Return to Sport and Physical Activity: For athletes, a key aspect of physiotherapy is guiding a safe return to sports, ensuring that individuals are physically prepared and at a reduced risk of re-injury.
Concussions require a joined effort to recognise, assess, and manage – from doctors to parents and the patient. Anyone who has experienced a concussion should seek the guidance of qualified clinicians to support their recovery. Get invaluable Concussion Rehab in Edmonton with Revive Spine And Sport Physiotherapy. Contact us today!
Physiopedia. Assessment and Management of Concussion. Available from: https://www.physio-pedia.com/Assessment_and_Management_of_Concussion
Better Health. Head injuries and concussion. Available from: https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/head-injuries-and-concussion
Health Direct. Concussion. Available from: https://www.healthdirect.gov.au/concussion#:~:text=Concussion%20is%20a%20mild%20brain,and%20vision%20or%20speech%20problems