Having a concussion can be a hard diagnosis to live with. Sometimes symptoms can be very obvious and sometimes they are not so obvious. In both cases, it can be difficult to manage day-to-day tasks. Learning how to recover from a concussion can be lengthy and confusing. This is why we've created a page specially for you. Here you'll find information on how concussion causes problems to your daily functions, and what you can do to help yourself get back to normal.
Scroll down to learn about what types of treatments you should be looking for, what physicians often don't have time to talk about, how our workshops might be helpful, and other services that might help you heal over time. We are here to help you. Let's do this together!
Types of Treatments
Science is only beginning to understand the mechanisms behind concussions. There is no clear picture of what changes occur when you've hit your head. However, there is evidence that several components of brain communication are impacted, based on tests and symptoms reported. In physiotherapy, we test these different components and provide treatment in accordance to the findings. This helps your brain learn to analyse and use information correctly.
In the first 24-48 hours after you've hit your head, it is best to rest. Only perform activities that do not make your symptoms worse. After this rest period, you can begin to exercise gradually. At this point, it is best to work with a physiotherapist who has experience treating concussions, to help guide your rehabilitation to normal function.
If you're not sure whether or not you've had a concussion, or if you know that you had a concussion a long time ago but never fully recovered, ask to be assessed by an experienced physiotherapist. They can provide you with guidance while you work toward your goals. It's never too late to make improvements.
There are different types of physiotherapy. When it comes to neurology you need someone who knows how the nervous system works. Sometimes simple exercises are not enough to help return to normal function. You need to target specific areas of the brain that are malfunctioning.
In neurology, physiotherapy targets the pathways in the brain, and re-creates the ones that have been injured by a concussion. We have special techniques that tell us what part of the brain is not working properly and provide special exercises to help improve those specific functions.
The type of exercise that you do is important. While you recover, it is important to train your cardio. This prepares the brain for learning. The exercises that are prescribed to you will depend on which part of the brain is most affected.
When trying to re-create pathways in the brain, you need to keep your exercises challenging and functional. Your brain will only retain what is important. In physiotherapy, we try to keep the exercises functional as much as possible, by using activities that you enjoy.
Your brain is most likely to remember how to analyse the information, if you practice during activities that are meaningful to you. We want to make the changes permanent, so we use activities that you enjoy in the clinic, and in your Home Exercise Program.
In order to make the brain understand which one is the correct pathway, it is important to practice correctly, and often. Just like learning a new sport. You might first learn the techniques and quality of the skill required, and review it to make sure that you perform it correctly, then you will repeat it often until it becomes automatic.
The same strategy applies to concussions. You are helping your brain learn a new skill. For this reason, we design our treatment plans with visits 1 to 2 times per week. This allows us to correct any abnormal patterns, and increase the intensity of the exercises, to continue making progress in the right direction.
The length of treatment has two components. First, the type of session, and second, the total length of the treatment plan.
There are two types of treatment sessions to choose from: regular treatment and complex treatment. In choosing the type of session, we will consider your goals, your tolerance to exercise and how many deficits we need to work on.
For your first treatment plan, we often suggest a duration of 4 weeks. This allows us to see how you progress and how you are doing with your Home Exercise Program. After these 4 weeks, you may choose to continue on your own, or to continue for another treatment plan, which can be for up to 12 weeks.
The duration of your treatment will be discussed with your physiotherapist on the day of your initial assessment. Depending on what the findings are, and what your goals are, you will talk about what type of session is most appropriate and how many weeks you should start with.
Exercise is Important!
What to expect from your neurologist (and what not to):
When you are first diagnosed with a concussion, you might know there's a rough road ahead. Your family physician will likely prescribe you some medication to manage your symptoms and recommend a lot of rest.
Here's some information that your physician won't discuss with you: You can and should exercise! We know that a concussion causes damage to the brain. We also know that the brain has the ability to heal itself. All you need to do is provide a little bit of guidance.
When the brain has lost specific functions, this can cause a great deal of discomfort as you attempt to accomplish simple daily tasks. This often leads to people resting for too long. If you stop performing all of your normal activities, you will loose the ability to perform them. As we all know: "If you don't use it, you lose it".
Exercise is very important to make sure that you continue to recover, and prevent further loss of function. You can do this on your own, or with the help of a physiotherapist who practices neurology. The important thing is that your brain learns to function properly again.