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Posted: 1 Apr

The Important Steps for Treating Concussion Symptoms

The Important Steps for Treating Concussion Symptoms


Getting the proper concussion treatment can be a frustrating and confusing process. Historically, rest was the go-to treatment option for people with concussions. All you had to do was rest, rest, rest then rest some more until all symptoms dissipated. However, increased research on concussions has shown that prolonged rest does not work and may even worsen the situation. While rest is absolutely necessary during the early stages following an injury, shorter durations of rest have shown improved results in patients. So, if you are still experiencing significant symptoms after a day or two of rest and a gradual return to activities, it is time to consider other concussion treatment alternatives. Call us to discuss treatment options.

Top 5 Most Effective Evidence-Based Concussion Treatment Options

Exercise Therapy

Studies have shown a reduction in blood flow to the brain following a concussion. Research has also shown that this reduction might persist for some time. It could be the reason you feel okay when at rest but experience heightened symptoms when you try to walk, work or even read a book.

Contrary to conventional thought, exercise can be a great way to rehabilitate this problem – provided you know what you are doing. Numerous studies show improved brain blood flow and symptom resolution after following a specific graded exercise program. However, it is important to work with a professional who fully understands this protocol to establish setpoints and your custom program.

Manual Therapy

Almost every concussion is accompanied by a whiplash. It is therefore nearly impossible to have a concussion without a strain or sprain injury to the neck. A Canadian research study found that these injuries almost always happen together. However, the signs and symptoms of concussion and whiplash are very similar making it hard to tell if your symptoms are from your concussion or your neck injury.

Concussions typically resolves quite quickly – for 80-90% of patients, symptoms disappear within a few days to a few weeks. However, whiplash symptoms can persist for a year or more without proper treatment. Therefore, if you are still having concussion symptoms after several weeks or months, these symptoms could actually indicate neck dysfunction which can be treated with manual therapy and rehabilitative exercises.

Diet/Nutritional Changes

Research shows that concussions can result in inflammation in the brain. Treatment options involve simple nutritional adjustments such as avoiding pro-inflammatory foods including refined sugars, red meats, pasta and white bread. Replace these foods with vegetables and fruits, fresh fish and good fats to offset the inflammatory response. You may also consider supplements but be sure to consult with your doctor first.

Vestibular and Visual Rehabilitation

Dizziness is a common complaint among concussion patients. However, this may be the result of overlapping issues such as problems with the visual system, the balance centres of the brain, or the joint and muscle sensors of your neck. After a thorough assessment of these possible causes, it may be appropriate for you to enroll in a rehabilitation program. Visual and vestibular rehabilitation has been shown to resolve visual dysfunction and dizziness in a fairly short time.

Education and Reassurance

A misinformed concussion treatment regime may involve avoiding social contact, sitting in a dark room, and avoiding working/studying or any physical activity for weeks on end. Unfortunately, this regime may trigger depression and anxiety which has been shown to prolong symptoms.

The Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation demonstrated that proper patient education and reassurance is effective in helping concussion patients feel better and prevent long-term symptoms.

Start Your Recovery

Consult with professionals trained in concussion treatment, such as your doctor, a neuropsychologist, or a physiotherapist to know which of the above concussion treatment options is right for you and to help you with the recovery process. Give us a call to discuss your options today.