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Physiotherapy to treat your concussion

Concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury, results from head shock causing functional disturbance of the brain with chemical imbalance, decreased cerebral oxygenation, and inflammation of the brain tissue. Follow-up in physiotherapy to ensure good recovery is recommended. Here is an overview of what is being evaluated and treated in physiotherapy in the presence of this type of impairment.


Symptoms of concussion

Concussion results in many physical, emotional and cognitive signs and symptoms that vary from one individual to another: headaches or lightheadedness, nausea, vomiting, and dizziness are among the most frequently encountered. Loss of consciousness can occur following direct trauma to the head, face or neck.

Often seen in contact sports such as hockey, soccer, boxing or high-risk impact such as diving, concussion alone accounts for nearly 75% of all brain-related accidents.

It also varies according to age, sex, the number of concussions suffered in the past and the time elapsed since the previous one.


Physiotherapy Assessment

In the presence of a suspected concussion, a complete assessment is performed by the physiotherapist, taking into account subjective and objective data:


Subjective data:

  • Identification of post-concussive signs and symptoms
  • Elimination of neurological signs and symptoms
  • Establishment of the state of consciousness, orientation and immediate/anterograde memory
  • Identification of the presence of pain


Objective data:

  • Complete neurological examination including various physical tests to ensure the integrity of brain structures and eliminate any more serious attacks
  • Cervical examination: mobility, strength, muscle tension
  • Orthopedic examination: scan of the upper limb
  • Balance and vestibular assessment as required


The physiotherapist also uses various tests such as “McGill Ace” or SCAT-3. The latter is a standardized tool for assessing individuals 13 years of age or older who suspect a concussion.

In a sports environment, the physiotherapist can intervene directly on the field to perform a primary screening of the athlete’s state of consciousness, orientation, amnesia, symptoms and motor skills, and eliminate any possibility of brain injury worse.


Physiotherapy, your ally for the treatment of your concussion

The most effective post-concussion treatment is rest. The affected person must therefore cease ALL activities within 24 to 48 hours following the trauma.

The physiotherapist then tracks the signs and symptoms in order to allow a favorable change in the condition. The physiotherapist will prescribe exercises of mobility, strengthening and cervical proprioception or even exercises of coordination and balance.

In addition, the physiotherapist will be able to accompany the patient from recovery to recovery to ensure a safe and gradual return to play and function without worsening symptoms.


If you have any questions, contact our physiotherapists.


By Florence Arscott-Gauvin, physiotherapist

Références :
  • Axophysio. (2015). Traumatisme crânien/commotion cérébrale
  • Concussion in Sport Group (2013). SCAT-3 : Outil d’évaluation de la commotion dans le sport – 3e édition.
  • Institut des commotions cérébrales. Commotion : Signes et symptômes
  • Saint Amour, Marie-Claude. Blessure à la tête et la colonne vertébrale, Traumatologie sportive, Université de Montréal, 2016


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