Call Us
» Blog
» The 6 Stages Of Concussion Recovery

The 6 Stages Of Concussion Recovery

The 6 Stages Of Concussion Recovery

Concussions are more common than people might think, affecting athletes, people in accidents, and even everyday people who have experienced a knock to the head. But for anyone affected, it can have a profound impact on physical and mental health. Symptoms range from physical, cognitive, and emotional.

The journey to recovery from a concussion is complex and multifaceted, requiring specialized care and attention. In Edmonton, AB, patients seeking expert concussion treatment need look no further than Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy, where a comprehensive approach to recovery is tailored to each patient's unique needs.

Understanding Concussions

Concussions are a widely prevalent injury, with thousands of people affected annually. These injuries occur due to a forceful impact to the head or body, causing the brain to move within the skull. This movement can result in a variety of symptoms, ranging from headaches, dizziness, and memory problems to more severe cognitive issues. It’s important to monitor any suspected cases as the repercussions of a concussion can extend beyond the immediate aftermath of the injury, often affecting an individual's daily life, work, and even their emotional well-being.

Signs And Symptoms Of A Concussion 

Concussions are complex injuries that can lead to a wide range of symptoms, both physical, emotional, and cognitive. These symptoms can vary from person to person and may present immediately after the injury or develop over time. It's important to note that while some individuals may experience several of these symptoms, others might only experience a few. For anyone with a suspected concussion, it's crucial to seek medical attention promptly. Here are some common symptoms associated with concussions:

Physical Symptoms 

  • Headaches are one of the most common symptoms following a concussion, ranging from mild to severe and they may persist for days or weeks.
  • Dizziness and balance problems, such as feeling unsteady, dizzy, or having difficulty maintaining balance, is another common symptom that can sometimes be accompanied by vertigo or a spinning sensation.
  • Nausea and vomiting can occur in some cases.
  • Sensitivity to light and noise, with exposure to these stimuli exacerbating other symptoms
  • Visual disturbances, such as blurry vision, difficulty focusing, or even double vision, may be experienced by some patients.

Cognitive Symptoms

  • Fatigue or extreme tiredness are often reported, with mental and physical exertion exacerbating this symptom.
  • Cognitive issues, leading to difficulties with memory, concentration, attention, or trouble focusing on tasks.
  • Confusion, disorientation, or feeling "foggy" is common following a concussion
  • Loss of consciousness, although this does not happen in all cases.

Emotional Symptoms 

  • Mood changes, irritability, anxiety, depression, and emotional sensitivity can occur
  • Sleep patterns might be disrupted, leading to difficulty falling asleep, staying asleep, or excessive sleepiness.

It's important to understand that each person’s experience with concussion is unique. Additionally, some symptoms might not appear immediately after the injury but could develop in the hours or days that follow. It's essential to seek medical evaluation and follow the appropriate protocols for any suspected concussions to prevent any negative or progressive health consequences. A healthcare professional, such as a doctor or specialized physiotherapist, can provide guidance on managing symptoms and creating a tailored recovery plan.

Concussion Treatment And Management

Treating and managing a concussion takes a multi-faceted approach, with different healthcare professionals and systematic steps involved to ensure optimal recovery and symptom resolution. Commonly, this involves rest during the acute phase, gradually reintroducing light activities, and implementing a return to sport regime. Physiotherapists collaborate with the medical team to address physical deconditioning, cognitive challenges, and emotional well-being. 

Assessment And Monitoring 

Concussion symptoms can be diverse and vary from person to person. Assessment and monitoring is a crucial element of concussion management. Before starting anything, doctors will complete assessments to rule out any potential complications. There are advanced techniques to quantify and track symptoms, enabling doctors to tailor treatment plans that address the specific needs of each patient. This may include support from a physiotherapist to return to everyday activities.

The Role Of Physiotherapy In Concussion Management

Physiotherapists play a vital role in concussion management. Physiotherapists guide patients through gradual activity reintroduction, addressing physical deconditioning, cognitive challenges, and emotional well-being. Collaborating with medical professionals, they ensure a safe and effective return to daily activities and sports.

At Revive, concussion treatment in Edmonton includes personalized assessment recovery plans that are tailored to each patient's individual needs. Our team of physiotherapists work with each patient to alleviate symptoms, restore function, and ensure a safe return to daily activities and sport.

The Stages Of Concussion Recovery

With symptoms under control and the green light from medical professionals, patients enter the phase of controlled reintroduction of activity. Under the guidance of a physiotherapist, patients work through each of the stages of concussion recovery. The stages include: 

1. Acute Management And Rest

The initial stage of concussion recovery is a critical one. Doctors will usually suggest a period of rest with minimal stimulation. This phase involves avoiding activities that could exacerbate symptoms, such as screen time, loud noises, social interactions, and intense physical exertion. Adequate sleep is equally crucial, as it supports the body's recovery mechanisms. 

Rest allows the brain to heal without the additional stress of everyday life. Medical supervision is essential during this stage to ensure that the rest period is appropriately managed. Doctors will provide patients with tools to manage their symptoms effectively. This acute management phase is pivotal in setting the tone for the rest of the recovery journey. 

2. Light Aerobic Exercise

As progress continues, the physiotherapist may introduce light aerobic exercises like brisk walking or stationary cycling. The emphasis remains on keeping intensity low and avoiding activities that could trigger symptoms. A physiotherapist's guidance ensures that exercise doesn't exceed the readiness of the body for increased exertion. The key here is moderation and listening to the signals from the body.

Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy emphasizes that a gradual approach is vital to prevent setbacks. While the desire to resume regular activities may be strong, ensuring the body and mind are fully prepared is paramount.

3. Moderate Exercise

With a steady improvement in symptoms and capacity, patients may be able to start more moderate exercises like jogging or low-resistance strength training. More intensive exercises and therapies aimed at addressing physical deconditioning can be included, but are often accompanied by extended periods of rest. At Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy, our physiotherapists employ a range of techniques, including targeted exercises, manual therapies, and specialized equipment, to facilitate the strengthening of muscles, improving balance, and restoring coordination.

This stage requires close monitoring of symptoms to prevent a relapse. The physiotherapist may make adjustments to the exercise regimen so as to strike the right balance between challenging the patient's physical and cognitive fitness whilst also maintaining safety.

4. Heavy, Non-Contact Exercise

The temptation after a concussion is to rush back into the same exercise routine. Physiotherapists are integral in guiding patients towards a more gradual return to ensure a smooth transition to normal life without any relapses.

Before starting any contact sport, our physiotherapists at Revive will check the patient’s response to non-contact exercise. As the body's resilience improves, heavier exercises such as high-intensity interval training (HIIT) or weightlifting might be considered. The focus remains on monitoring symptoms and preventing any accidental head impacts that could hinder recovery progress. 

5. Return To Sport 

For athletes and individuals with specific performance goals, the transition to sport-specific training marks a significant milestone. Collaborating with sports trainers and coaches, physiotherapists can tailor the rehabilitation program to mimic the demands of the patient’s chosen activity or sport. Progression should be gradual, beginning with sport-specific drills and controlled situations before moving to full participation. 

This stage is crucial for athletes aiming to return to sport. At Revive, our physiotherapists understand that it's not only about physical health but also regaining the confidence to engage in these former activities and sports. 

6. Competition 

The final stage of the concussion recovery journey is perhaps the most exciting one as it indicates a full recovery: returning to a competitive environment. However, this phase still requires careful planning and ongoing monitoring by the physiotherapists and wider medical team. The focus of our Revive physiotherapists is not just on recovery but on reaching a level of function that allows our patients to regain their quality of life.

Recovering After A Concussion

Concussions can be a scary and all-consuming injury for patients. Recovery after a concussion requires proper support and a comprehensive and systematic approach. Physiotherapy plays a crucial role in guiding patients through the different stages of recovery. From managing symptoms to addressing physical and cognitive challenges, physiotherapists can offer personalized plans that address the specific needs of each patient. Collaborating with medical experts, physiotherapists help ensure each patient has a safe return to daily life and sport. 

At Revive Spine and Sport Physiotherapy, our goal is to help regain their strength, resilience, and quality of life after a concussion. Our Edmonton AB physiotherapy team is here to support each patient through their concussion recovery. Learn more about concussion treatment in Edmonton, AB, by contacting our experienced team! 


AANS. Concussion. Available from:   

CDC. Returning to Sports and Activities. Available from: 

Health Direct. Concussion. Available from:,and%20vision%20or%20speech%20problems

Physiopedia. Assessment and Management of Concussion. Available from: 


New Harvest Hills Location - Now Open! AHS funded Physio visits are available at our Albany location