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Concussion Physiotherapy


Background:


Concussion or mild traumatic brain injury is very common in both contact and non-contact sports.


In the AFL there are roughly 7.5 concussions for every 1000 hours of gameplay.


Whilst less common, concussion injuries can also occur in the workplace.





Causes:


A common misconception is injury/trauma to the head is needed to suffer a concussion.


This is not true.


Concussions can be caused by direct contact to the head or by rapid forces that cause a whiplash type mechanism.





Symptoms:


All cases of concussion present differently.:


  • headache

  • memory problems

  • dizziness

  • mood disturbances

  • difficulty sleeping

  • visual disturbances

  • poor coordination and balance

  • fluctuations in heart rate (autonomic dysfunction


What is the role of the physio?


Post concussion, high stimulus environments can be enough to flare up symptoms. It is common to have high sensitivity to noise and sounds.


Because concussions often occur in sporting situations, physiotherapists are normally the first to assess / screen players.


We can’t rely solely on players reporting symptoms to determine whether they’re okay to return to play or train (because some people are eager to return asap).


Therefore, physios and other health professionals have developed many tests that objectively measure whether a player is ready to return.





What does rehab look like?


Following concussion injuries, treatment involves gradual exposure to activity both in work and sport.


Your physiotherapist should equip you with a thorough plan to build back into activity and monitor your symptoms.


It is possible to return to sport/work too early and worsen symptoms.


Exercises may begin with sub-optimal weights and walking and progress to heavier resistance and intensities.


Prevention:


Due to the prevalence of concussion injuries, there are specific exercises that can be implemented to help reduce the likelihood of concussion injuries.





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