A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) induced by biomechanical forces. Concussions can be caused by a direct hit to the head, face, or neck or by an impulsive force through the body transmitted to the head (whiplash). After a concussion, an individual may experience:
- Sensitivity to light
- Memory loss
- Trouble sleeping
- Temporary loss of consciousness
Symptoms of a concussion commonly manifest as functional disturbances rather than structural disturbances. This means standard neuroimaging such as CT scan and MRI may not always detect any abnormalities of the brain.
Most individuals will have spontaneous resolution of their concussion symptoms. In 10%-20% of people, however, there will be more lasting effects. This population will develop post-concussion syndrome (PCS). After an mTBI the brain becomes less efficient in sequencing, integrating, and processing sensory inputs. This may lead to forgetfulness, poor concentration, taking longer to think, blurred vision, personality changes, intolerance to stress, headache, and dizziness. There is limited research in the underlying cause and treatment of PCS. Currently, the best treatment is a multi-modal approach that involves assessing your vision, vestibular (balance), and autonomic systems as well as a thorough orthopedic cervical assessment.
Early return to exercise or learning post concussion could have a negative impact on your recovery. A physical therapist can help by assessing your individual impairments and developing a plan to systematically incorporate physical and cognitive stresses back into your life.