Concussion Recovery

I just have to rest it right?

Wrong! Concussion diagnosis and management is one of our passions at Sports & Spinal Albury Wodonga, and through our extensive training we’d love to educate the general public more on what is involved in the recovery process.

For those who don’t understand, a concussion is a traumatic brain injury that is often due to a blow to the head or even the upper torso, creating a whiplash to the upper neck and damage to the brain itself. This is commonly associated with a loss of consciousness, however that is just one potential symptom and is in fact absent in a lot of concussion injuries. Other common symptoms include dizziness, vomiting, fogginess, memory difficulties/amnesia, photophobia (sensitivity to light) to name a few, but there are many more that might leave you feeling ‘not like yourself’.

Step one for the recovery is getting the concussion accurately diagnosed (greater accuracy if a baseline test has been performed – contact us today to book yours!), ruling out potentially more serious injuries such as skull fractures or nerve damage.

Testing includes a battery of tests that are designed not to be cheated, involving symptoms,  visual tests, cranial nerve testing, balance and reaction time testing, word and number processing challenges. 

It is important to note that everyone’s concussion is different to the next persons. One person may struggle with eye and head movement but have great balance, whereas the next person will have deficits in concentration and reaction times but can shake their head without symptom flare up. This is why getting the concussion assessed is really important, your rehab will be different to the next person!

A common struggle for concussion patients is visual problems. Visual deficits are often found with body movement (such as walking and running), or just eye movement (such as reading a book) and both are often exacerbated with fatigue and when performed in a busy environment. 

A couple of example exercises we prescribe to help rehabilitate this are saccades and the visual ocular reflexes motion exercises. You can give these a try at home and see how easy/difficult they are for you. 

  • Saccades – you can do this sitting or standing, place two items on a mirror (at eye level) in front of you about 60cm apart and stand about the same distance away from the mirror.

Whilst keeping your head perfectly still dart your eyes from one item to another as quickly as you can (your eyes will fatigue quickly), see how long it takes for you to feel dizzy or for your eyes to not have enough energy to continue.

It’s harder than you think! 

  • Visual Occular Reflex – This exercise is similar to the last but with different moving parts. This time have one object directly in front of your eyes and stand about a metre back. 

Keeping your eyes focused firmly on the object whilst shaking your head from side to side, start slowly and build up speed

See if you can do it for 15 seconds without getting dizzy or tired! 

For an added challenge, try and do the motion with a nodding forwards and backwards instead of side to side! 

An area that you might not know about is the effect of exercise and physical stress that can exacerbate symptoms. So as well as testing out all the ‘mental’ aspects of concussion symptoms we can get you out into our clinic rehab space and take you through your paces. 

Again depending on what symptoms you experience your physical homework will change as well, some people will require walking/jogging at a certain pace or heart rate measurement, whilst others will need to work with floor ladders, hurdles or resistance training.

So why is doing my rehab important? One of those questions that sounds silly when you say out loud but rehab is ignored again and again. For this instance I’m going to compare the injury to a muscular strain, because in reality the principles are quite similar. If you ignore the exercises, sure your pain and symptoms will mostly go away but you will have weakness and deficits when you go back to those activities again, e.g. the muscle cramps and tightens, or in worse case it re-tears itself due to the lack of strength. 

Comparatively; if you have visual trouble whilst reading and you avoid doing your visual exercises … guess what? It will still be hard to read in a month’s time. This avoidance behaviour can create a chronic post concussion syndrome which will take a lot longer to recover from. 

 

Make sure you check out our previous blogs about concussion they are worth a read- Click here

You can also book for a concussion assessment via our website or call 02 60211975 an our admin superstars will be happy to help

 

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