Concussion Management

What is Concussion?

The brain is a delicate organ. It is protected by the skull and a layer of fluid that sits between the skull and brain. While the brain has a distinct shape, it’s kind of like molded jelly. At rest, the brain just sits in place. When we’re running or jumping around, the fluid layer cushions the brain so no damage is done; but when the head is jolted forcefully, the fluid isn’t enough to prevent the brain from moving around in the skull.

With a hard hit to the head, and the brain rapidly moves back and forth, getting squished up against one side of the skull and then the other, sometimes repeatedly. A severe blow or violent shaking may also cause the brain to twist or stretch. All of these movements damage the brain, resulting in a type of traumatic brain injury called concussion.

Concussion can be caused by a fall, car accident, body blow in sports, or other situation that is sudden and severe.

Concussion Management

Concussion is a traumatic brain injury so even suspected concussion should be assessed immediately by a physician. A concussion is a neurological injury, so when symptoms persist, neurological rehabilitation is often the best treatment. Our Concussion Management program can be started one month after the concussion occurs.

Some symptoms may subside during these first few weeks, and alleviating those that remain is the goal of concussion management. These may include:

  • Headache
  • Memory difficulties
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Vertigo (dizziness)
  • Trouble balancing
  • Confusion, inability to think through a problem

Concussion management is often a multidisciplinary process, with each professional providing a different method of treatment.

Physiotherapy for Concussion

The incident that caused the concussion often also impacts the neck, shoulders, and spine. Complaints of a stiff neck, kink in the back, or shoulder soreness are common. Physiotherapy to restore proper functioning of these areas helps to alleviate symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, and balancing difficulties.

Specific methods may be used to decrease inflammation, strengthen muscles, restore equilibrium, or treat other physical aspects of lingering symptoms.

Occupational Therapy for Concussion

Different parts of the brain control different aspects of our mind and body. The frontal lobe, for example, controls memory and problem solving, while the parietal lobe controls body orientation, and the cerebellum controls balance. Since every concussion is different, so are post-concussion symptoms.

Occupational therapy plays three general roles in concussion management:

  1. Education and reassurance
  2. Pacing and adapting
  3. Recovery

Having a concussion can be scary. All of a sudden, you can’t think straight or follow your usual routine. One of our OTs, trained in concussion management, will explain what’s happening to you, and show you how treatment will address those issues.

A gradual return to your usual pace of life is usually recommended. Your Occupational Therapist will help you create activity plans that will not put too much strain on you, and help you find alternative ways to get important things done. Your OT can also recommend assistive devices, memory prompts, or other adaptive strategies to use until you have recovered fully.

Occupational therapy for concussion management also includes exercises to retrain thought processes, to improve memory and problem solving, and may also work with your physiotherapist on issues such as spatial orientation and balance.

If symptoms persist long-term, your OT will also help you with strategies to manage at work and at home.

Methods and Approaches to Concussion Management

There are some commonly used methods in physiotherapy and occupational therapy that are also used in concussion management.

Physical therapy may involve:

  • Manual manipulation by the therapist, like stretching the neck muscles.
  • Having you repeat specific movements, like following a moving object with your eyes without moving your head.
  • Electrotherapy, which sends a tiny current of electricity between two points on the body to stimulate nerve and muscle cells.
  • Ultrasound, which sends sound waves into the body, acting like a gentle massage for deep tissue.
  • Exercises to improve balance.

Occupational therapy may include:

  • Training and practice to improve memory, organizational skills, and problem solving.
  • Adapting the home or work environment.
  • Devising alternative ways to complete a task.
  • Recommending the use of devices to work around limitations.
  • Providing coping strategies.
  • Education and coaching to master physical, cognitive, and social skills.

Two of the specific methodological programs we offer are Integrated Listening Systems (ILS) and Cogmed. ILS uses music and movement exercises to improve brain function and brain/body integration. The Cogmed Working Memory Training program improves attention and memory.

Please get in touch if you have any questions about our concussion management services

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T: 778.880.0944
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T: 604.846.8240
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T: 604.540.0078
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Langley, BC
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