Concussions are being diagnosed more frequently than ever before, and this type of common, mild head injury can cause lingering effects – often unnecessarily. Anytime the brain is affected by a force or shearing injury, attention should be given immediately due to the complicated role of the brain as the control center. There are, of course, preventative measures taken in sporting activities to protect athletes from brain trauma, but these strategies cannot prevent accidents from occurring 100% of the time. So what are the potential effects of a concussion, and what action should be taken in the case of a concussed athlete?
The Short-Term Concussion Effects
Luckily, the majority of athletes who experience a concussion only experience mild effects on the brain. Since a concussion is a mild brain injury the brain will need time to recuperate, with many of these injuries resulting in the brain healing within 3-5 days. However, the symptoms related to this brain injury typically last longer than the time it takes for the brain to heal. Most people will have symptoms for 7-10 days as the brain learns how to understand the world around it after the injury heals. Typical symptoms of these short-term concussions include headaches, vision sensitivity, temporary memory loss and other mild cognitive problems with concentration, dizziness, and fatigue.
The Long-Term Concussion Effects
85% of all concussion injuries that occur in sporting events will be short term injuries that have a full recovery. Injuries that involve concussions with long-term effects are much more serious. For some athletes, concussion symptoms continue long after the brain has healed, resulting in lingering headache, occasional dizziness, and difficulty resuming full intensity of activity. This has more to do with the brain struggling to manage sensory and life information than lingering injury or damage. The brain may be struggling to manage sensory and “life” information, and common overlooked contributing issues may be a cervical/ neck issue, TMJ/ jaw alignment problem, or simply a balance issue requiring the eyes, inner ear (vestibular system) and body sensors to work together in sync again.
Action to Take with a Concussion
Since short-term effects on the brain from a concussion will vary greatly in recovery time, not healing time, proper immediate action should be taken. Because every brain is different, and mechanism of injury as well as severity of symptoms will vary, the recovery time for a full recovery will vary as well. Concussion management will always require the individual to rest and limit, not restrict themselves from physical and cognitive exertion. This rest period may last for several days while controlling the amount of stimulation to the brain such as listening to loud music or focusing on computer or phone screens.
If visual, cognitive or other symptoms persist, consulting with a healthcare professional who is trained in concussion management should occur. Detecting any medical problems early on will help in the recovery and return-to-activity process.
Post-Concussion Program and Treatment
If post-concussion therapy is recommended, finding a program that will facilitate a full recovery is vital for an athlete’s care. At Generation Care, we focus on resolving lingering symptoms through a comprehensive approach to correcting and rebalancing key sensory, motor, and cognitive systems with a multi-dimensional approach. Our trained physical therapists range in specialties of the concussion program that will address problems often overlooked.
Generation Care’s approach includes a thorough assessment of physical and cognitive function to determine the best course for treatment. Professionals who are experts in identification and management of these symptoms are quick to engage the patient, parent, coach, trainer, and physician in a clear plan for resolution of symptoms and return to activity. 15% of all concussions are known to have residual physical effects long term. It’s critical to begin the post-concussion recovery process with experts in progressive mobility and function. If you or your child has experienced a concussion through sports activities or otherwise, please contact our team today for professional care.