Concussion: 4 Kinds of therapists that can help with your concussion recovery now
Updated 1 year ago
The goal of this article is to explain how various therapists and therapies can help you on your recovery after a concussion. We will explain what a concussion is, the myths about concussions, and the types of therapists that can lead you to independence, recovery and more.
Concussions are serious head injuries
The word concussion is loosely thrown around to describe a “less serious” head injury which is far from the truth! Any type of head injury—minor or large—should be taken seriously.
There are several studies that show that many individuals mistakingly undermine the severity of a brain injury when the term “concussion” is used.
For example, researchers at McMaster found that despite serious brain injuries, children spent fewer days at the hospital when they were described as having a concussion and were more likely to return to school sooner following hospital discharge (1).
Given these misconceptions, it is important that the general public is given accurate and helpful resources on concussion prevention and safety.
What is a concussion?
To put it simply, a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump or blow to the head or a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth (2). This type of injury can result in a temporary loss of normal brain function that can be reversed if the correct precautions are taken.
How long can a concussion last?
Depending on the extent of the injury, a concussion can last for several days, weeks, or even longer. Although concussions are not life-threatening alone, mismanagement of concussion symptoms or recurrent concussions can lead to irreversible changes in the brain. Despite common belief, concussions can occur in any age group across the lifespan.
Common signs and symptoms after a concussion?
It is important to keep in mind that signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not show up immediately—that doesn’t mean one shouldn’t attend to them. Some of the signs and symptoms of a concussion can be divided into the following (3, 4):
headaches that don’t go away with painkillers
nausea and/or vomiting
temporary loss of consciousness
ringing in the ears
Emotional & Behavioural Symptoms
concentration and memory complaints
delayed response to questions
amnesia surrounding the event
sensitivity to light and noise, communication impairments.
Prevalence of concussion in Canadian population?
The current data on concussion incidence is most likely an underestimate as most statistics reflect visits to clinics, hospitals, and/or emergency departments(5). There are many individuals that choose not to visit their healthcare provider after a head-related injury or may see a different healthcare provider. With that being said, the current estimate of concussions is 200,000 amongst Canadians. It is important to remember that concussion related accidents occur outside of sports-related injuries and motor-vehicle accidents. Falls, especially in children and the elderly, are additional common causes of concussions which can easily be prevented with proper client education and environmental modifications.
3 Misconceptions About Concussions
Concussion has become a major buzzword in the media which has played an important role in spreading awareness about the negative implications of head-related injuries. At the same time, there are many myths surrounding the condition and what treatment should look like.
In this article we will debunk three common myths surrounding concussion!
Myth 1 | To get a concussion you must hit your head and lose consciousness?
Wrong! This is a very common misconception that isn’t true. Remember that a concussion can also occur when your head rapidly moves back and forth after experiencing a direct blow to the body. Additionally, many studies have shown that only around 10% of concussed patients will lose consciousness after the injury(6).
Myth 2 | Symptoms of a concussion appear immediately after you experience a brain-injury
This fact is also not true! Symptoms can appear a couple of hours, days, and even weeks after the injury. It is important to monitor your symptoms over time and to follow up with your health care provider if you are experiencing any unusual and/or new symptoms.
Myth 3 | A person should rest after a concussion and should avoid all forms of physical activity.
Contrary to popular belief, this fact is incorrect. Engaging in your everyday activities can actually help with your recovery after a concussion(7). With that being said, it is important to talk to your healthcare provider(s) about the types of exercises you should or shouldn’t be doing to avoid overexerting yourself.
Who can help with my concussion recovery?
Trying to figure out who or where to receive help from after experiencing a head-injury can be extremely overwhelming! It is important to seek immediate medical attention from a doctor if you are experiencing any of the symptoms listed above. Once you have been evaluated by a physician, you may be referred or choose to see a different healthcare provider to help manage your post-concussion symptoms. Here are some examples of those professionals!
You may decide to see an occupational therapist if your concussion has gotten in the way of your ability to participate in the day-to-day activities that are important to you. Many of the physical, emotional, and cognitive symptoms discussed above can get in the way of engaging in activities related to leisure (social activities, hobbies), productivity (e.g. work, school), or self-care (e.g. grooming, cooking, sleep hygiene) (8).
Occupational therapists can also provide education on energy conservation techniques, sleep hygiene, and relaxation strategies to help manage symptoms.
Speech Therapists have the specialized knowledge to address communication related impairments that occur after a concussion. Depending on the extent of your injury, communication impairments can include symptoms like slower thinking, problems learning new information, impaired language and reading comprehension, and reduced ability to follow and engage in conversations (9).
Counsellors also play an important role in addressing the less obvious mental health consequences following a concussion. For some individuals, the psychological and emotional effects of a concussion including depression, anxiety, irritability, and mood swings can be present a year after their injury (10).
Finally, kinesiologists are professionals focused on using physical activity as a method of treatment to improve performance and function. This is especially relevant in concussion treatment where personalized exercise programs are important to promote physical activity early on in recovery.
Why choose Swift Health therapists for your concussion recovery?
All Swift Health therapists are regulated health professionals with post-professional training on concussion management. All therapists (OTs, SLPs, Counsellors, and Kinesiologists) are registered with their respective regulatory body to ensure they meet the necessary education qualifications to provide safe and ethical care. Our therapists at Swift Health use a multidisciplinary team-based approach to concussion management whereby Occupational Therapists, Speech Therapists, Kinesiologists, and Councillors work together to achieve the same goal of supporting our client’s individual needs.