Concussion – the things you need to know

Whenever we think of concussion, the first and often only thing we consider is the management of neurological symptoms (dizziness, vision changes, sensation changes, headaches). Management of the musculoskeletal side of concussion is most often overlooked.

Winter sport is upon us, and this means concussion rates will soon rise considerably, so let’s take a look at what concussion is and how we can manage the other symptoms of concussion and prevent them from occurring again.

Put simply, concussion is a brain injury involving temporary loss of brain function caused by a blow to the head or violent shaking of the head.

The brain is made of soft tissue, encased in a protective skull. When you sustain an injury or blow to the head, the impact itself can jolt your brain inside your skull. This can cause bruising, damage to the nerves and damage to the blood vessels.

As a result, your brain may (temporarily) no longer function normally. It can leave the individual with serious cognitive, physical and emotional symptoms. Your vision may be altered, you may have changes in your balance, and you may fall unconscious. If left untreated, especially if repeated concussion’s have occurred, it can have some major long-term detrimental effects.

So it is important if you suffer from a blow to the head with or without loss of consciousness, that you get yourself checked by a medical professional, particularly to get clearance before returning to sport.

Now for the juicy new research…….. What can Physiotherapists do?

A recent, well conducted study of over 6000 high school age children participating in sport with a high incidence of concussion was done in order to highlight any similarities or trends when it came to concussion. They found that the following were all associated with higher rates of concussion:

  • Weaker average neck strength
  • Smaller average neck circumference
  • Smaller average neck to head circumference ratio

In short, kid’s with skinny, weak necks and big heads have an increased risk of concussion. Along with this, it was also found that for every one pound increase in overall neck muscle strength, the odds of concussion decreased by 5%.

Furthermore, another study from the AFL concluded that only when managed correctly (ie including a neck rehabilitation program), acute concussion appears to resolve promptly and does not adversely affect subsequent performance or increase the rate of further concussion.

So in accordance with this, we have developed a post concussion neck rehabilitation assessment and strengthening program which includes proprioceptive, strength and control retraining. The goal of this being to increase the strength and size of the neck muscles in order to decrease the risk of a subsequent concussion in this high risk population.

If you have suffered a concussion in the past, especially recently, you should have a thorough assessment by one of our Physio’s, so we can ascertain any muscle weakness you have. With a specialised rehabilitation program, you can decrease the risk of it happening again – and this is vital to protect your brain (which I think you know is a pretty important organ we have!!)

So if this speaks to you – get in touch so we can sort you out and get you back on the field safely and confidently. Call us on 9905 0048 to arrange an appointment or book online