What is a concussion:
A concussion is a form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can be caused by a blow to the head. This can be due to hitting your head or an indirect force, such as whiplash. Concussions can result in a variety of symptoms that can significantly impact a person’s ability to complete daily tasks. These symptoms can include headache, decreased balance, dizziness/vertigo, memory impairments, difficulty concentrating, visual disturbance, nausea, confusion, and sensitivity to light/noise among many others.
Concussion in sports:
Concussions are among the most common injuries sustained by athletes that play contact sports such as soccer, football, rugby, hockey, and basketball. Female athletes have been shown to experience concussions at a higher rate compared to male athletes. Once a person sustains a concussion, he or she is at a higher risk of sustaining another concussion.
- Myth: If I didn’t lose consciousness, I don’t need medical treatment.
Only about 10% of people who sustain a concussion will lose consciousness. Loss of consciousness does not always predict the severity of the concussion. If an athlete believes they have sustained a concussion or is demonstrating symptoms consistent with a concussion, he or she should be evaluated by a medical professional.
- Myth: Athletes are strong so they can return to sport immediately following a concussion.
Concussions have been shown to change how the brain functions for anywhere between 10 to 15 days following the injury. This time frame leaves athletes vulnerable to a serious condition known as Second Impact Syndrome due to the brain’s decreased ability to respond to stress. It is important to be able to recognize signs of a concussion and receive proper treatment promptly following a concussion. This is especially true for younger athletes as it typically takes them longer to fully recover compared to adults
- Myth: Physical therapists can’t help patients who have sustained a concussion.
Concussions often result in a wide variety of symptoms so a team of healthcare professionals may be needed to treat patients who have sustained a concussion. Physical therapists are an important part of this team. Physical therapists can help provide treatments to improve balance, gaze stability, decrease neck pain, and reduce dizziness in patients following a concussion. A physical therapist can also help develop a plan to safely return the athlete to sport.
It is important to know and understand the risks and complications of concussions. If you have questions, don’t hesitate to contact one of our experts at the following clinics: 90th Street, Gretna, West Omaha/Elkhorn, and Plattsmouth.
Amanda Lauer PT, DPT
Amanda is an ImPACT trained physical therapist and she works with patients who have sustained a concussion.