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Concussion Corner

Concussion 101

A concussion occurs when there is a direct OR indirect blow to the head, face, neck, or body.  This trauma will result in wide variety of symptoms, indicating that the brain has been disturbed.  Symptoms may include headache, neck pain, balance problems, dizziness, confusion, blurry vision, nausea, difficulty concentrating, sadness, anxiety, or even just feeling “off”.  An individual does not necessarily have to lose consciousness in order to have a concussion.  Concussions often occur in sports, but can arise from minor incidents, such as bumping one’s head or getting hit with a soccer ball. 

The brain is often protected by the skull, but when the head is hit hard enough, the brain can bounce back and forth or rotate inside the skull, causing it to be bruised.  When the brain is injured, it is not visible from the outside and can usually not be seen on a CT scan or MRI.  The brain is the control centre of the body.  It controls our balance, mood, sleep, thinking, memory, senses, and just about everything that we are capable of doing.  It is therefore necessary that it recovers fully and receives optimal care!

Due to the complexity of a concussion injury, it is important that one seeks professional care if any concussion symptoms are experienced.  Medical professionals including doctors, physiotherapists, and chiropractors are certified to complete thorough head injury assessments and develop a protocol that gets students, athletes, parents, and the working population back to their regular lives as quickly and safely as possible.  Experts in concussion are able to narrow down specific symptoms and causes, and work with patients to improve eye control, balance, neck strength, cardiovascular condition, pain management, and day-to-day function. 

In the past, research has shown that the majority of concussions (80-90%) resolve in 7-10 days.  However, new studies are showing that concussion symptoms may last anywhere from 2 to 6 weeks.  Complex concussions may lead to post-concussion syndrome, and individuals may find themselves suffering for months without treatment.  Improper management of concussions can result in long-term effects on the brain and a higher risk of recurrent head injuries.  Whether or not one’s concussion is acute or has been ongoing, it is essential to get assessed by a trained medical professional. 

Concussion Program at SMS

As the leading experts in sport medicine and high performance training, Sports Medicine Specialists is now offering a complete and thorough concussion assessment and rehabilitation program.  SMS has launched a comprehensive concussion protocol incorporating an evidence-based examination and innovative treatment techniques, using the most advanced technologies available in practice today.

All of our patients will be assessed by a sports medicine doctor, as well as a physiotherapist with specialization in concussion rehabilitation.  Upon examination, the professionals will test all of the systems of the body that may be affected by the injury.  – physical, neurological, vascular, cognitive, visual/oculomotor, vestibular/balance, cervical, cardiovascular, psychological, and emotional.  The therapist will then determine whether the patient will require a multi-system rehabilitation program.   

The complex concussion protocol involves rehabilitation in all areas affected by the concussion:

  • Pain and symptom management
  • Manual therapy of the spine and associated tissues
  • Visual/oculomotor therapy
  • Balance and reaction time training
  • Neck and core strengthening
  • Total body conditioning
  • Return to school/work
  • Return to activity/sport

Patients will partake in the rehabilitation program 1-2x/week for 1 hour under the supervision of their physiotherapist.  All patients will also follow-up with their sports medicine physician on a regular-basis.  If necessary, patients may be referred to specialists in areas of pediatrics, optometry, cognitive behavioural therapy, psychology, neuro-ophthalmology, and vestibular therapy in order to ensure full recovery of the brain and body.  As patients progress, treatment time and frequency will be reduced accordingly and patients will then be seen for regular scheduled appointments until full recovery is achieved.

Our goal is to return you to your activity at a higher level than even prior to your injury.  With our new concussion program, we will have you back as soon and as safe as possible.  Take care of your brain -it controls the body in which you live!

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