Rethinking Treatment for Concussions

Concussions are mild brain injuries that can cause headaches, dizziness, fatigue, vision changes, memory loss, neck pain as well as other symptoms. In the past, the traditional recommendations for a concussion have been to take it easy and avoid anything that aggravates symptoms. So you may have been told to take it easy and stop exercising, to lay down in a dark room as much as possible, to avoid screen time, or to wear sunglasses or even ear-muffs if bright light or loud noises aggravate your symptoms.

Recent evidence has shown that this advice is wrong. These recommendations actually delay recovery from a concussion. Exercise is shown to be one of the best tools to help in recovery. Light exercise, such as walking, should be started immediately in most cases, and then gradually progress towards regular activity. Also it will actually help our recovery to have exposure to the conditions that aggravate our symptoms. It is better to challenge the visual and balance systems, rather than avoid symptoms altogether. So instead of laying in the dark or wearing sunglasses all the time, it is better to have light exposure. If you are experiencing dizziness, certain exercises to challenge that dizziness is better than avoiding it altogether. Our brains need the stimulus to re-adapt to back to normal.

Furthermore, almost all concussions will involve some degree of neck injury, which is often overlooked. So recent research also emphasizes that treating the neck with manual therapy and rehabilitative exercise is an important component of concussion management.

Concussions are serious injuries, but they can be managed well and time to recovery can be reduced with the right treatment. Every case is different, so get checked out by a professional if you think you’ve had a concussion.