Prolonged rest is no longer the best approach to treating symptoms caused by concussion.
Concussion is treatable.
Emerging research over the last decade has revolutionised our understanding of how to best treat concussion. Unfortunately, there has been a lag with this research becoming common knowledge for both health professionals and the general public. Don’t worry, we’ve got you. Although concussion injuries are complex, the good news is that there are lots of treatment options that can be helpful. The great news is that many of these can be started within the first few days after the injury! This quick read will introduce the modern and most effective treatment options for concussion symptoms. 24-48 hours of rest is still worthwhile, but this shouldn’t be bed rest or staying in a dark room.
So… what does the best treatment look like after a concussion?
Every concussion is unique and complex. A comprehensive assessment and individualised treatment plans are often needed for an optimal recovery.
Treatment could include all of the following:
- Understanding Your Concussion and Its Impact on Your Life
- Assessing Your Subtype/s of Concussion
- Exercise Therapy
- Vision and Vestibular Rehabilitation
- Neck Treatment and Exercise Therapy
- Prioritizing Sleep and a Healthy Diet
Even as you begin to feel better, it is important to follow the guidelines on compulsory sit out times and wait for symptoms to resolve before returning to sport.
Understanding Your Concussion
Every concussion is unique. The first step towards a successful recovery is a detailed assessment. This begins with a discussion about the symptoms you are feeling, and the impact that they are having on your life. This is essential. There are approximately 26 different symptoms that can occur after a concussion. Different patterns of symptoms and symptom trigger can indicate what treatment you need to recover. This is because different types of symptoms are associated with the different subtypes of concussion.
Assessing Your Concussion Subtype/s
There are different causes of prolonged symptoms after a concussion. These causes are called concussion subtypes or phenotypes. Subtypes can occur in isolation, or together. Wherever possible, diagnosing the subtype/s of concussion is important because they require different treatments.
For example, a common symptom pattern is fogginess and dizziness while reading. The treatment for this pattern would be different for someone who experiences headaches while exercising – another very common symptom profile after concussion.
It can be difficult to conclusively diagnose a concussion sub-type but combining the symptom patterns mentioned previously with specific assessments, can identify the most likely cause/s for your symptoms.
Exercise Therapy After Concussion
Cardiovascular exercise after a concussion injury is one of the best things you can do to speed up your recovery. Exercise is great for counteracting common issues like fatigue, fogginess, dizziness and sleep disturbances. However, one of the most common symptom triggers following concussion is exercise! To overcome this, we use state-of-the-art, exercise tolerance testing protocols to design you an exercise program so that you can exercise without being limited by symptoms.
Vision and Vestibular Rehabilitation After Concussion
Visual processing disturbances with common tasks like reading and driving are very common after concussion, as are dizziness and balance problems. A rehabilitation program to target your body’s visual and balance systems can often alleviate these problems. This program typically involves regular specific eye and head movements based on a series of tests called a vestibulo-oculomotor screen.
Neck Treatment and Rehabilitation After Concussion
It is well known that headaches can be caused by problem with the neck. Concussion is typically caused by minor or major whiplash and whiplash can cause sprain and strain injuries to the neck. As such, it is important to assess and address for any signs of a neck injury following a concussion.
Massage, manipulation/mobilisations and stretching/strengthening exercises can all help alleviate pain in the neck and head. It is important to be aware that manual manipulation, also known as an adjustment or cracking, is not advised in the first ten days following a diagnosed concussion.
Prioritising Sleep and a Healthy Diet
Concussion causes an inflammatory response within the brain. Lack of sleep and certain foods can increase systemic inflammation which can influence symptoms and delay recovery. Common foods that can trigger inflammation include refined sugars, processed foods, dairy, gluten and alcohol. Smoking can also increase systemic inflammation so, if you are able, reducing smoking will help recovery. Certain micronutrients can also assist concussion recovery. These include high quality magnesium and DHA/omega-3 (fish oil).
Additionally, getting good quality sleep helps your concussion recovery on multiple levels. Aim for 7-9 hours, ideally 8. Be sure to limit screen time in the hour leading up to bed if you have trouble winding down.
For more information on establishing a healthy sleep routine check out https://www.betterhealth.vic.gov.au/health/conditionsandtreatments/sleep-hygiene
Stop waiting to feel better after a concussion. Concussion is treatable.
Book an assessment with Patrick today!
Have questions? Email me at firstname.lastname@example.org