Concussion Guidelines – Part 1
The management of concussions has become an increasingly popular topic among health care professionals and the sporting industry over the past few years. There has been an increased effort to educate parents, coaches, doctors, and athletes regarding the signs/symptoms of a concussion and the long-term consequences of leaving a concussion untreated. Only until recently have professional sporting organizations such as the NHL and NFL stepped up and implemented new concussion protocols which required the team physician to perform an extensive neuropsychological assessment of players with a suspected head injury. The neuropsychological assessment normally consists of a cognitive/physical evaluation, balance testing, coordination testing, and ends off with more cognitive testing.
So, let’s start with the basics…what is a concussion exactly?
A concussion is defined as a “brain injury that cannot be seen as on routine imaging such as X-Rays, CT Scans or MRIs.” An individual does not need to lose consciousness to have had a concussion!
What are the signs and symptoms?
The signs and symptoms can be split into three categories: cognitive complaints, physical complaints, and other general complaints.
Cognitive complaints: disorientation (unable to correctly verbalise time, date, place, score of game, period of game, etc.), general confusion, amnesia (unable to remember specific details before/after head trauma
Physical complaints: headache, dizziness, lightheadness, double vision, loss of vision, photophobia (increased sensitivity to light), nausea, ringing in the ears (tinnitus), fatigue, increased sensitivity to noise
Other general complaints: poor balance/coordination, slurred speech, slow response to questions, poor concentration/decreased attention span, strange/inapprioriate emotions, poor sporting performance
Individuals who have sustained a head injury may not experience all these symptoms listed above and may not even exhibit symptoms until a few days after the incident. There is a high degree of variation depending on the severity of the trauma and individual’s previous history of concussion.
In my next blog post, I will talk more about the management of concussion and recovery guidelines (part 2 | part 3). In the meantime, please take a look at the pediatric concussion guidelines put together by the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation below:
For any additional questions and/or concerns, ask our friendly team of north Toronto therapists!
Author: Clarence Lau, BSc (Hons), MPhtySt
Toronto Registered Physiotherapist | Acupuncture Provider