Concussion has received a lot of attention in recent years. A concussion is a rehabilitative brain injury that can affect your life, and cause various cognitive, physical, and behavioral symptoms. It has been linked to contact sports participation workplace accidents and falls causing long-lasting brain changes. After sustaining a brain injury seeking immediate medical help is a must after sustaining a brain injury. For proper treatment and quick recovery, an expert in physiotherapy exercises for concussions should be consulted. In this blog, we have discussed concussions and physiotherapy exercises for it.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion occurs when the head sustains a direct hit or the brain is rapidly shaken. Concussion means that the brain is not actually "damaged," but blood flow and cellular function in the brain are changed. Depending on the injured area, it may lead to temporary or permanent brain function problems. Physical symptoms of a concussion include nausea, headaches, dizziness, blurred vision, and inability to move or maintain balance. Some individuals may become highly sensitive to light or noise and might experience ringing in the ears. Problems associated with memory and concentration, sleep, and mood imbalances can also arise after a concussion injury.
Physiotherapy Exercises for Concussion
Physiotherapist examines the cardiovascular, neurological, and orthopedic systems. A physiotherapist helps the patient to recover from a concussion. The right treatment plan can help him to restore physical and cognitive functions such as balance and concentration. The physiotherapy includes:
It is important to limit physical activity after a concussion to ensure rest. As rest period sends the brain into recovery mode and helps the symptoms to disappear.
More often than not, the neck is likely to stiffen or tense before, during, and after a concussion, resulting in chronic pain that may reach the shoulders. The physiotherapist uses various strategies and interventions combination of manual physical therapy and progressive therapeutic exercises help to decrease pain and discomfort, and promote cervical and thoracic spine mobility.
The rest period after a concussion can lead to decreased muscle weakness and physical endurance. Therefore, the physiotherapist will focus on restoring the strength without worsening the symptoms. He designs a therapeutic exercise program based on his needs.
Balance and Coordination Rehabilitation:
Physiotherapists are vestibular rehabilitation experts dedicated to helping concussion patients who experience loss of balance and dizziness and loss of balance. Vestibular physiotherapy greatly helps, as the inner ear and its connections with the brain can help prevent dizziness and helps to maintain balance. Specific exercises are also taught for balance improvement.
Headaches are one of the worst symptoms of concussions. Physiotherapy for the treatment of headaches involves strength and motion exercises, specialized massage, stretches, eye exercises, and electric stimulation.
Eye Tracking and Early Vision Rehabilitation:
The concussion patients usually struggle with vision and might even face difficulty tracking objects. The physiotherapist offers oculomotor exercises in a safe environment to support the patient. Exercises such as pencil push-ups can help the eye adapt to the changes in visual depth, and the use of visual targets to improve the eye's ability to direct and hold attention without any head movements.
Aerobic Exercise Program:
Physiotherapists use graded exercise testing like the Buffalo Concussion Treadmill test. This aims to determine the level of exertion that is safe for patients without worsening their symptoms. This test can be used in the recovery process in patients with mild concussions. It particularly works well for those with persistent symptoms. The physiotherapist uses the information collected during the treadmill test and creates an individualized aerobic exercise program for the patient.
Autonomic Nervous System Rehabilitation:
The autonomic nervous system (ANS) is responsible for managing non-conscious bodily functions, such as blood pressure regulation and breathing. Autonomic dysfunction occurs when a concussion damages the parasympathetic nerves and as a result of this, the patient may experience several side effects, including excessive sweating, high blood pressure, and dizziness. If the patient has low blood pressure, the following lifestyle changes may help.
- Elevating the bed's head.
- Increasing fluid consumption.
- Wearing compression stockings.
- Adding salt to the diet.
If a patient experiences persistent autonomic dysfunction symptoms, an aerobic exercise program is recommended by the physiotherapist, comprising of the following exercises.
- Lower and upper limb stretching.
- Treadmill exercise.
- Walking/ jogging.
- Stair climbers.
Each exercise should be performed for 30 to 60 minutes twice a thrice a week.
These exercises should be done in such a way that they don't overload the brain and nervous system while increasing the activity level. This helps in the proper healing of the brain tissue and the patient expects to return to everyday life most safely and quickly possible.