Shift Concussion Management Program
A concussion is a type of brain injury caused by a blow, “jolt” or bump to the head that temporarily changes the way your brain works—causing you to experience symptoms like headaches and dizziness. A concussion may also occur from a blow to the body that causes your head to jolt back-and-forth or side-to-side. A concussion may or may not involve a loss of consciousness. In fact, very few concussions actually result in loss of consciousness.
Concussions can produce a wide array of symptoms, which pose a challenge for coaches, trainers, parents and health professionals involved in the care of an injured athlete. The time-course for recovery also varies widely from athlete to athlete, making it impossible to employ a “cookie-cutter” approach to concussion rehabilitation and return-to-sport timelines.
Concussion signs and symptoms
- Pressure in head
- Neck pain
- Nausea or vomiting
- Blurred vision
- Balance problems
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Feeling slowed down or fatigue
- Feeling like “being in a fog”
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering or confusion
I was referred here, specifically to Jade and yesterday was my first visit. I was really impressed! I’ve been to several places for Physio over the years and this experience was much better than most. I very much appreciated the personal attention I received along with a thorough treatment including an exercise plan that I can review and track online. Looking forward to next appointment!
What is a concussion?
Following a suspected concussion, it is recommended that you consult your Family or Sport Physician as early as possible for medical evaluation. Most sport-related concussions do not require emergency care.
It is important that you or your son/daughter remain under close observation over the first few hours following the injury. You should not be left alone or allowed to drive.
If any of the below urgent medical care symptoms are present you should go to the emergency room:
- Headaches that worsen
- Severe neck pain
- Grossly unusual behavior
- Very drowsy, can’t be awakened
- Can’t recognize people or places
- Repeated vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Significant irritability
- Weakness/numbness in limbs
- Less responsive than usual
- Increasing confusion
In addition to consulting your medical doctor, it is recommended that you book an appointment with one of our Integral trained providers for further assessment and management.
Management recommendations may include rest strategies, modified school and/or work requirements, specialized rehabilitative techniques (i.e. vestibular therapy), manual therapy or physical therapy and other recovery strategies.
Getting the proper physical and cognitive rest
In the early stages of a concussion, especially the first 48 to 72 hours, athletes not only require complete physical rest but also cognitive rest. Therefore, activities requiring attention and concentration may need to be modified or avoided altogether. These include schoolwork, video games, text messaging, computer games and so forth. As your symptoms improve, these activities can be slowly re-introduced and/or modified as needed. Our Integral trained provider will help devise a rest strategy specific to your needs.
Physical or cognitive exertion requires considerable energy to accomplish. Engaging in these tasks prematurely may cause symptoms to worsen and prolong recovery, which is why it is all the more important to observe the recommended rest periods.
The more energy a concussed individual spends on school tasks, work obligations or video games; the less energy there is available to help the brain repair itself.
Symptom duration and post injury recovery is highly individual and may be influenced by various factors such as previous concussions, severity of concussions and number of symptoms experienced.
Most concussions resolve within a short timeframe, but some may persist up to a month or longer. If your symptoms do not improve or linger beyond 3 weeks, make sure that a qualified healthcare provider assesses you. There may be an underlying problem that needs to be addressed or you may need to alter your current management strategy in some way.
It is normal to feel frustrated, sad or angry during your recovery because you cannot return to sports, recreational or academic activities right away. It is better to miss a few games, than an entire season.
What is baseline testing and why is it important?
Because concussions can be difficult to diagnose and test for, it is recommended that athletes obtain a baseline test before the start of the sport season. A baseline test gives health professionals a point of reference or “snap shot” of your pre-season cognitive and physical function so that if you sustain a concussion, the after-injury results can be compared to your baseline test. Having a baseline test helps health professionals more accurately gauge the severity of your concussion, objectively monitor your recovery and determine when it is safe for you to return to play.
What are the components of baseline test?
Shift uses a combination of several testing strategies to obtain a comprehensive picture of each athlete:
Neurocognitive Testing (ImPACT)
Integral uses the ImPACT® test as part of all baseline assessments. ImPACT is a computer-based test that takes about 30 minutes to complete. ImPACT measures things like memory, attention span, how quickly you process information and how quickly you respond to certain instructions or tasks. ImPACT is the most widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion test available.
Balance and postural stability
It is well established that balance and postural stability are often affected following a concussive injury. Every athlete is unique and with each season may be at a different level of physical development and athletic skill.
Visual Coordination Screening
The visual system is often significantly impacted by a concussion. In many cases visual acuity or overall clarity of vision is not affected but the ability of the eyes to work together in a coordinated fashion. Symptoms of visual dysfunction after a concussion may include eye pain, dizziness, focusing issues, difficulty reading and headache. Screening visual coordination skills at baseline aids health professionals in better identifying these issues after a concussion and recommending the right form of therapy.
For more information, visit Shift Concussion & Management website.