PT eDigest

PTD0914_HeadPainUse Your Head with Concussions

In recent years, concern has risen about the long-term impact of concussions, traumatic brain injury usually brought about by direct impact to the head or by severe, violent shaking of the upper body. In most cases, a concussion has little to no lasting effect, but repeated or severe blows can have long-term or even permanent bearing on sensory and cognitive functions. Incurring a second concussion before recovering from the first can increase symptom severity and even lead to death.

With no visible external signs, the only person who can tell if you have suffered a concussion immediately after the injury is you. If you experience any combination of the following symptoms, you should immediately cease physical activity and see a medical professional.

Physical symptoms of a concussion include headache, dizziness, nausea or vomiting, blurred or double vision, heightened sensitivity to light and sound, difficulty sleeping, ringing in the ears and fatigue. Cognitive (thinking) symptoms include short- or long-term memory loss, confusion or inability to concentrate, difficulty forming words and a feeling of “fogginess.” Emotional symptoms include irritability, mood swings, depression, aggression, restlessness, anxiety and a decreased tolerance for stress.

The first thing to do after incurring a concussion is to avoid exertion of any kind. Plenty of sleep and rest will help the brain recover from a concussion. Avoid participating in sports, and limit activities that involve mental concentration, such as playing video games, watching television, schoolwork (you may be able to return to school or your job on a shortened schedule), driving, texting, reading or using a computer. For a headache, take acetaminophen to relieve the pain; avoid aspirin, ibuprofen and naproxen because these may cause bleeding.

Once a diagnosis has been made, we can design a course of treatment. Vestibular therapy involves specific exercises and training for the head, body and eye that reduce or stop dizziness and improve stability and balance. Back and neck exercises will help strengthen your spine to reduce pain and headaches.

As part of a multidisciplinary team of health professionals treating concussion, we can assess your condition and offer specific therapy to alleviate troubling symptoms. If you or a loved one has suffered a concussion, frequent and open communication with us regarding your progress can enhance recovery and determine when it is safe to resume physical activity.

Download the PTe Digest for August 2014