A concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) can occur from the forceful movement that happens in a collision between players while playing sports or in a motor vehicle accident or from the impact of a fall. During this forceful movement, the brain becomes injured when it collides with the inside of the skull. A loss of consciousness may result but often does not. Because the brain is enclosed in a tightly secured area within the skull, the normal swelling response to injury can cause further damage. Following a head injury, the concussed brain has a difficult time performing its normal functions such as thinking and processing. Everyday activities such as reading may become challenging.
Normally, with proper rest and management, the brain will recover on its own. However, for some individuals, concussion-related symptoms will persist and may even worsen over time. The experienced symptoms may be mild (i.e. an athlete who may only have trouble with exertional training) to severe (a person having trouble sleeping, thinking, driving and/or participating in his/her normal activities of daily living).
A typical evaluation begins with a detailed history of your injury and subsequent symptoms. A thorough oculomotor exam is performed using our infrared video goggles. During this exam, we evaluate your eye movements while you perform specific tasks such as visually following a moving target while keeping your head still. Your cervical spine (neck) is also assessed. Additionally, we evaluate the muscles, joints and reflexes that may be contributing to your symptoms. Balance testing is performed on the SMART Balance Master System using appropriate assessments such as the Sensory Organization Test (SOT). Other tests and measures may be utilized to assess your gait (walking), coordination and vestibular system (inner ear). Results from testing performed outside of our clinic (cognitive testing such as the ImPACT) will be obtained to help determine the most effective treatment for you.
Based on the results of your evaluation, an individualized treatment plan will be formulated that best suits your recovery needs. Treatment often begins with better management of your specific symptoms. When appropriate in the recovery process, you will be asked to slowly progress the intensity and level of challenge in your prescribed activities. This may include eye exercises, balance exercises and/or exertional training.
Here is more information on how to schedule an appointment for physical therapy after a concussion.