This is a question that I get a lot from patients and physicians, and surprisingly there is actually a lot that a physical therapist trained to treat concussions can do to help! First, a physical therapist will perform a comprehensive evaluation at your initial appointment to categorize the types of symptoms that you are experiencing. This will help to direct your treatment plan since symptoms are different for each person and can affect a variety of areas including thinking, mood, sleep, headaches, vision, and/or balance.
A physical therapist will be able to provide you with more information about what to expect after a concussion as well as strategies to best structure your daily work, school or sport activities as your brain is still healing. If you are experiencing any dizziness after a concussion, a physical therapist can determine the exact cause of the dizziness and perform a canalith repositioning maneuver for vertigo, teach you eye exercises if it is due to tracking difficulties, or teach you vestibular exercises to retrain your balance system. If necessary, physical therapists can provide hands-on treatments such as myofascial release, soft tissue and/or joint mobilization, cupping, and trigger point release to help any tight neck muscles that may be causing neck pain or headaches.
A physical therapist will design an individualized therapeutic exercise program to restore any strength and/or endurance lost while you were resting as your brain was healing. They can also teach you exercises to correct any weakness or tightness in neck posture muscles that be contributing to headaches. They will instruct you in a specific step-by-step progression for a safe return to sport/exercise based on the guidelines outlined by the International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport.
In summary, if you have experienced a concussion that is not improving within 10-14 days after the injury, ask your physician for a referral to see a physical therapist! Julie Berube, PT – our Concussion Management Specialist will be happy to evaluate you and help get you on the road to recovery. Request an appointment with her below!