FAQs on Concussions


What is a Concussion?

A concussion is the term used to describe an injury in which the brain shifts or shakes inside the skull and can actually make contact with the bony surface. Another term that can be used to describe a concussion is a minor traumatic brain injury.

How does it happen?

A concussion typically results from a blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body in which the force is transmitted to the brain.

How do I recognize a concussion?

Common symptoms of a concussion may include nausea, balance and memory problems, disorientation, confusion, difficulty concentrating and neck tightness. For a full list of symptoms and more information on how to recognize a concussion check out the Concussion Recognition Tool (http://bjsm.bmj.com/content/47/5/267.full.pdf ). It is important to note that an athlete does not have to lose consciousness to have a concussion and that symptoms may be delayed from the time the injury occurs.

What do I do about a concussion?

If an athlete has a suspected concussion they should immediately be removed from play and referred to a health care professional. The health care professional will determine the severity of the injury and treat the athlete accordingly. Physiotherapists and massage therapists can help with neck tightness following a concussion. Acupuncture is another form of treatment that may be used by your physiotherapist to decrease symptoms after a concussion.

How long does it take to recover?

80-90% of concussions resolve in a short period of time (7-10 days) however the recovery time may be longer in children and adolescents. Some concussions can last for much longer periods of time. A full recovery means that an athlete is able to return to full capability without any lingering symptoms from his/her concussion. The minimum time it takes to return from a concussion is 7 days.

When am I able to return to sport or activity?
There is a specific gradual return to play protocol that should be adhered to before returning to activity. All athletes, whether elite or recreational, should follow the same protocol. A physiotherapist is trained to guide an individual through the different stages to safely and successfully return to sport or activity.

NOTE: This is not an all-inclusive post/document on concussions and should not be viewed as such. Always see your doctor if a concussion is suspected.

– Brent MacAdam, PT

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