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  • Writer's pictureSachin Bhat

The Physiotherapist’s Role in Concussion Management

Concussions, often labeled as mild traumatic brain injuries, can have profound effects on an

individual's health and well-being. As awareness of concussions grows, so does the recognition of the crucial role that physiotherapists play in the comprehensive management of these

injuries. In this blog post, we will explore the multifaceted approach that physiotherapists bring

to concussion management, focusing on their role in assessment, rehabilitation, and overall

patient support.


*Assessment and Diagnosis


Physiotherapists contribute significantly to the initial assessment and diagnosis of concussions.

Through thorough clinical examinations and specialised tests, they evaluate symptoms such as

headaches, dizziness, balance issues, and cognitive impairments. Their expertise in

musculoskeletal and neurological assessments enables them to identify specific impairments

related to the concussion, contributing valuable information to the overall diagnostic process.


*Collaboration with Healthcare Professionals


In the complex landscape of concussion management, collaboration is key. Physiotherapists

work closely with other healthcare professionals, including physicians, neurologists, and

neuropsychologists, to ensure a comprehensive understanding of the patient's condition. This

collaborative approach enhances the accuracy of the diagnosis and allows for the development

of individualized treatment plans.


*Customized Rehabilitation Programs


Physiotherapists design tailored rehabilitation programs based on the unique needs and

challenges faced by each individual with a concussion. These programs often include exercises

targeting vestibular and ocular-motor function, as well as graded aerobic exercises to safely

reintegrate patients into physical activity. The gradual progression of exercises is closely

monitored to prevent symptom exacerbation and promote a steady recovery. Having worked extensively in Elite Junior Rugby League Program, we have had extensive experience in integrating contact sport athletes back into their sport of choice.


*Vestibular and Ocular-Motor Rehabilitation


Concussions often disrupt the intricate systems that control balance and eye movements.

Physiotherapists employ vestibular and ocular-motor rehabilitation to address these issues. This

may involve gaze stabilization exercises, balance drills, and head movement desensitization to

improve coordination and reduce symptoms like dizziness and visual disturbances.


*Gradual Return to Activity


Physiotherapists play a pivotal role in guiding patients through a gradual return-to-activity

protocol. This stepwise progression considers both physical and cognitive exertion, ensuring

that individuals can tolerate increased demands without triggering a recurrence of symptoms.

Physiotherapists monitor the patient's response to activity, making adjustments as needed to facilitate a safe return to daily life and, where appropriate, sports participation.


*Education and Support


Beyond the physical aspects of concussion management, physiotherapists provide crucial

education and emotional support. They help patients understand the nature of their injury,

manage expectations for recovery, and address any anxiety or concerns. This educational

component empowers individuals to actively participate in their recovery and make informed

decisions regarding their rehabilitation.


*Long-Term Management and Prevention Strategies


For some individuals, the effects of a concussion may persist over the long term.

Physiotherapists play a continuous role in managing lingering symptoms, adjusting rehabilitation

strategies as needed, and implementing preventive measures to reduce the risk of future

injuries. These strategies might include neck and upper back strengthening.


Reach out to us if you have had a concussion and need assistance in your

rehabilitation - it is an important injury to get on top of so it does not affect your life going

forwards!


References:

- McCrory, P., Meeuwisse, W. H., Aubry, M., Cantu, B., Dvořák, J., Echemendia, R. J., ... &

Turner, M. (2017). Consensus statement on concussion in sport—the 5th international

conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016. British Journal of Sports

Medicine, 51(11), 838-847. doi: 10.1136/bjsports-2017-097699.

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