Monday, July 3, 2017

The Truth Behind Concussions

More Than a Ringing Bell…
Within the last couple years, concussions have come to the forefront of injury prevention, especially in regards to sports. However, in addition to slamming into another person, you can get concussions from motor vehicle accidents and falls. As more research has come out, concussions are more than just a knock on the head; there are chemical and metabolic changes that occur in the brain.

Cascading Chemicals
A concussion occurs when there is a shearing or stretching of the axons of a neuron (see picture). When this happens, a number chemical changes occur in the brain and the normal balance in the brain is thrown off and some chemicals are concentrated in the wrong area. When those neurons try to fire later, those chemicals prevent normal function. So when you try to read, exercise, drive, work, etc., you get tired quickly and might experience headaches, fatigue, nauseousness, or dizziness. Think of your brain like a muscle: after an injury, both do not function properly and need time to heal before returning to normal activity.


What Can Physical Therapy Do?
Like muscle injuries, physical therapists can be essential in helping to recover from a concussion. About 80% of concussions resolve themselves within 10 days. It is the other 20% that require further care. Since our expertise is exercise, we are able to gradually re-introduce exercise in a controlled environment, monitoring symptom response and progress when patients are ready. We can also perform balance and visual-motor exercises; both systems can be effected concussion. As symptomatic response (headaches, fatigue, dizziness) decreases, we are able to slowly add in more complex activities to help the brain return to normal function. Over time, these activities can improve the balance of chemicals in the brain to the point where normal function levels are restored.

If you have questions on what else can physical therapists can do for concussions or think you might be a candidate for physical therapy, give any of our seven locations a call. Some links below are also great sources for more information on concussions and concussion physical therapy.

 PTW’s Sean Vanin, DPT is the Clinical Supervisor at our Quakertown clinic. For an initial evaluation, call Sean at 215 538 9911 today for an appointment as soon as possible!

APTA Article Beyond Rest: Physical Therapists and Concussion Management

UPMC Sports Medicine Center “Concussions Facts and Statistics”

Center for Disease Control and Prevention “Traumatic Brain Injury and Concussion”