How to recover from a concussion

What you need to know about concussion recovery

Athletes, people with dangerous occupations, and seniors all have one thing in common: they are at high risk for concussions.

Many patients experience concussions after bumping their head. Fortunately, most concussions are mild and are not life-threatening. However, it is still important to take the proper steps to ensure that the concussion heals quickly and without further damage being done. Read below to learn all about concussions, from the symptoms to the recommended treatment.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury caused by physical force to the head. When a concussion occurs, the brain rocks back and forth. It may knock the patient unconscious, but this does not always happen. For that reason, you should not assume that you are not concussed following a serious blow to the head. Instead, understand the symptoms that typically follow a concussion.

READ MORE: 10 reasons why you should see a physiotherapist

Symptoms

It may take a few days for a concussed person to start feeling any symptoms. They are divided into four categories: mental, physical, emotional, and sleep. Here they are in further detail:

● Mental: the patient has trouble remembering things, and their thinking is clouded

● Physical: the patient has headaches, and shows sensitivity to light and loud noises

● Emotional: the patient is moody or irritable

● Sleep: the patient has trouble sleeping, or sleeps more than usual

What are the consequences if not treated?

It’s important to see a doctor and follow their instructions following a concussion. Without proper treatment, a concussion can lead to long-term consequences. You may face headaches, memory problems, dizziness, or mood swings – all of which could last months or even years. In extremely rare cases, concussions can be fatal.

I don’t know if I’m concussed – what should I do?

Are you experiencing symptoms of a concussion, but you aren’t sure if they’re serious enough to amount to anything? It’s always better to be safe than sorry. Even if you don’t end up having a concussion, your symptoms might indicate something else, which a doctor can help you determine.

READ MORE: Common side effects of physiotherapy

How to heal properly following a concussion

After seeing a doctor about your concussion, you’ll want to carefully monitor your behaviour for the next week or two – most concussions take about ten days to fully recover from.

Limit exposure to screens and bright lights

It may be hard to resist looking at a screen in the 21st century, but avoiding screens is one of the most important things you should do after a concussion. Otherwise, your headaches will almost certainly worsen.

Rest

For the first 48 days following a concussion, your top priority should be to rest. This does not simply mean you should only sleep, though getting a full night’s rest is still necessary. Resting means limiting how much pressure you place on yourself. As well as sleeping, try taking a bath, meditating, sitting comfortably, and doing light activities.

Avoid dangerous or rapid movement

In order to heal and protect yourself from making the concussion worse, it’s important to avoid intense physical activity. This means physical exercise, sports, motion-based games, and strenuous chores should be avoided until you are finished healing.

Stay hydrated

Drinking plenty of water limits the suffering caused by the symptoms of a concussion: headaches, for example. On top of that, it is believed that being dehydrated can increase the risk of getting concussed.

Visit a physiotherapist to treat whiplash

Though a concussion is a brain injury, other parts of your body may be affected by the blow to your head. For example, your neck may be sprained or sore. In this case, you may choose to visit a physiotherapist. They can help treat issues like whiplash that are often connected to brain or head injuries.

Consider dietary changes

Many doctors believe that a few minor changes to your diet can make a difference in your recovery. You may consider drinking more water over other drinks, getting more vitamins and minerals, and choosing foods with a variety of nutrients. Avoiding caffeine, sugar, and alcohol is also a good idea. We recommend speaking with your doctor, physiotherapist, or a dietitian.

Monitor Your recovery

If you don’t see improvements after two weeks of following the treatment recommendations above, you should inform your doctor. They will help determine whether your treatment needs to be adjusted or if you require a brain scan or additional methods of treatment.

READ MORE: Exploring the many benefits of geriatric physiotherapy for seniors

In conclusion, concussions are a traumatic brain injury that should be treated with care. For the two weeks following a concussion, the patient should limit intense activity and exposure to bright light, and instead prioritize rest. At Elysian Wellness Centre, our physiotherapists can help you recover from whiplash and similar experiences with neck pain following an injury. Contact us to learn more about our services and to find out how our team of health and wellness experts can help with the concussion recovery process.

Johanne Gordon - Registered Physiotherapist

Johanne is an experienced, fluently bilingual physiotherapist who graduated in 1992 with a Bachelor of Science in physiotherapy with magna cum laude honours from the University of Ottawa.

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