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Concussion Management and Rehabilitation

Approximately three million concussions occur each year. Whether from sports or a physical accident, concussion symptoms can be severe and last days, weeks or even months. Banner Physical Therapy offers the latest advances in concussion rehabilitation using physical therapy to improve symptoms and reduce healing time. Our team of caring, concussion trained physical therapists play a central role in your concussion care, developing an individualized rehabilitation plan to guide you each step of the way.

If you’ve suffered a concussion, talk to your doctor about how physical therapy can help.

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a blow, bump, jolt or other violent movement to the head, neck or body. You should see a doctor if you suspect you’ve had a concussion. A doctor needs to evaluate your injury and monitor your recovery. It’s important to take time to rest and allow your brain to heal following a concussion. You must have a doctor’s approval before you return to normal activities. If you get a second concussion before the first concussion is healed, it increases your chances of severe brain swelling and may be fatal.

What Are Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion?

Symptoms of a concussion vary depending on the person and the injury. You may experience signs immediately, or not for hours, days or weeks following your injury. Your symptoms may change during your recovery. And, most likely you won’t lose consciousness. 

Common symptoms of a concussion:

  • Headaches or neck pain
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • Light and/or noise sensitivity 
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Being off balance or clumsy 
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Drowsiness (fatigue, low energy)
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Feeling confused
  • Slurred speech
  • More irritable or emotional

What Is Post-Concussion Syndrome?

If concussion symptoms linger for weeks or longer, it may be due to a complication called post-concussion syndrome. This is why it’s important to see a doctor if you think you have a concussion. If your symptoms aren’t going away, you may need treatment from a physical therapist and/or other health care professionals to assist with recovery after a concussion.

Doctors don’t know why some people develop post-concussion syndrome and others don’t. It isn’t connected to the severity of the concussion; however, if you’ve had three or more concussions, you’re at higher risk for post-concussion syndrome. 

How Is a Concussion Treated?

Most people who suffer from a concussion will fully recover quickly. Following a concussion, you will need to rest, stay hydrated, use an ice pack on your head or neck for comfort and refrain from using electronics (phone, tablet, TV). Do NOT drive, exercise, take ibuprofen or other similar drugs or drink alcohol. Your doctor will determine when it’s appropriate for you to return to normal activity. Keep in mind, each person’s healing time is different. However, your recovery can be helped significantly through concussion rehabilitation.

What Is Concussion Rehabilitation?

Concussion rehabilitation is a type of physical therapy that targets concussion symptoms. Following a concussion, physical therapy can help patients recover physically and mentally more quickly. 

We provide each patient in our concussion rehabilitation program with a personalized, guided treatment plan towards recovery. We work with your care team to ensure you receive timely assessment, education and treatment for your concussion to help you recover safely and quickly.

How Does Concussion Management and Rehabilitation Work?

Physical therapy treats ailments through physical means, including techniques such as massage, exercise therapy and heat treatments. Using physical therapy for concussion rehabilitation can improve your balance, vision, focus, gait and mood. It teaches you techniques to manage symptoms and avoid symptom-provoking activities. It also can reduce pain and promote healing from injuries such as whiplash.

Your Banner Health physical therapist will design a concussion care plan with supervised, onsite sessions as well as an at-home component, including:

  • Exercise therapy: Physical activities designed to increase blood flow to the brain
  • Manual therapy: Manipulation, massage or kneading of muscles and joints to reduce pain from injury
  • Vestibular and visual therapy: Exercises to help to reduce symptoms related to balance and vision
  • Diet/nutritional changes: Foods to reduce inflammation and support healing
  • Mental health care: Support for mental health symptoms and for patients with a history of depression and/or anxiety
  • Testing: Assessments to establish baselines and measure progress

Who Should Consider Physical Therapy for Concussion Rehabilitation?

Your doctor may recommend concussion rehabilitation or physical therapy if your symptoms don’t resolve in a reasonable time frame or your symptoms could be improved through physical therapy.

If you’ve had a concussion, it’s important to see a doctor immediately. If your doctor recommends physical therapy to help your recovery, our qualified physical therapists can help. Our team specializes in the latest concussion therapies to help you feel better and get back to normal activity. 

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