A Friday Night Lights Headache
It's that time of year. Football is in full swing along with many other fall sports. Concussions in adolescents most commonly occur during participation in athletics.
The American Brain Foundation defines a concussion as "when the brain is jostled inside the skull due to an outside impact to the head or body, a fall against a hard surface, or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. This sudden movement of the brain can damage and stretch brain cells, cause chemical changes, and temporarily disrupt normal brain function, especially in the areas of memory and orientation."
An estimated 3.8 million recreation and sports related concussions occur each year in the U.S. High school football poses the highest risk, followed by soccer and basketball. Also, an estimated 50% go unreported or undetected. Symptoms can present in various ways from headache or head pressure, sluggish or groggy feelings, sensitivity to light or noise, to nausea, vomiting, balance problems, blurred vision, confusion, and memory problems. Symptoms for many will fully resolve in 7-10 days, but 10-20% of patients will show recurrent symptoms that can last up to a full 12 months after injury.
What can physical therapy do? As physical therapists, we complete a thorough evaluation of your musculoskeletal, neurological, vestibular, and balance systems. We provide education to assist with sleep and prevention of aggravating factors during the rest and recovery phase. We determine the origin of the dizziness and balance problems and correct them with stretches, mobility, eye exercises, and other handson techniques. Frequently, concussions involve a whiplash injury that can be treated with manual therapy and other modalities to assist with the quality of motion. Focus then transitions to restoring strength and endurance with a training program. Lastly, progression back to normal daily activities or return to sport must be monitored and gradual to prevent increased stimuli that can re-aggravate symptoms. If you or your child are active in sports, a concussion is an injury to be vigilant about.
If you have questions or think you or a loved one may have sustained a concussion, please seek treatment. At All In Physical Therapy we are dedicated to helping you find the best care for a concussion.
– Alex Huntington-Wilson, PT, DPT, MTC