Physical Therapy Eases Pain for Patients with Post-Concussion Syndrome

Concussions are particularly scary conditions because they are often tricky to diagnose. Mainly, for three main reasons:

  1. Symptoms of the concussion do not always readily appear.
  2. The concussion sufferer does not always admit they are experiencing any symptoms.
  3. The attending doctor cannot always identify symptoms.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), typical symptoms include:

  • Difficulty thinking, remembering or concentrating.
  • Feeling irritated, melancholy, nervous, anxious or overly emotional.
  • Headaches, blurred vision, nausea, vomiting, dizziness, noise/light sensitivity or balance problems.
  • Trouble sleeping or sleeping too much.
  • Feeling tired or exhausted.

And although concussions are usually considered mild, the CDC reports that an estimated 30% of all injury-related deaths are linked to traumatic brain injuries (TBIs). As a result, TBIs are recognized as a significant cause of death and disability in the United States.

But where does physical therapy come into play?

In an article published by the Bangor Daily News on October 28, Bobby Cochrane, a physical therapist at OA Centers for Orthopaedics in Portland Maine, explained the following ways that physical therapy helps patients recovering from concussions:

  • Concussions can throw off the vestibular system, which is a sensory system located in the ears that handles balance and space acclimation. Physical therapists that instruct patients to perform head movements at slightly increasing rates can help to readjust those senses back to pre-concussion states.
  • Although concussions often result from head injuries, sufferers are more likely to experience neck pain. By introducing exercises that emphasis greater posture control, physical therapists can help patients alleviate headaches and dizziness that stem from the neck area.
  • Concussions sometimes cause feelings of fatigue because the brain is not getting enough energy from the blood flow. To increase blood flow, physical therapists can gradually start a patient on a cardiovascular workout routine that gradually increases in intensity.