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Concussion - a hot topic!

A dictionary excerpt of the definition of concussion.

There is growing interest and understanding around concussion injuries and the role of a physiotherapist in the assessment, diagnosis and treatment, particularly for athletes.   

Concussion is defined as a type of traumatic brain injury that affects brain function.  It can be caused by a bump, knock, or impact to the head, neck or the body that causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth inside the skull.   

Importantly, symptoms and signs can present immediately or over several minutes to hours.  Usually symptoms settle within a few days but in some circumstances, they can be prolonged.  Most of the time, there are only physiological changes with no structural changes identifiable in the brain on imaging.   

Concussion can present with a huge range of symptoms, including but not limited to: 

  • Headache 

  • Dizziness or double vision 

  • Loss of consciousness 

  • Confusion/disorientation 

  • Loss of balance 

  • Neck pain 

  • Difficulty concentrating 

  • Memory issues 

  • Nausea and/or vomiting 

  • Speech difficulties 

  • Fatigue 

  • Sensitivity to light or noise 

  • Behavioural or emotional changes 


If there is any suspicion of a head knock or concussion mechanism in a sporting context, then it is vital for the player to be assessed before taking further part in the game/activity.  The key mantra in a sporting setting based on current evidence is ‘if in doubt, sit them out’.   

Physiotherapists are health professionals who have a vital role to play in concussion. 

If you or someone you know experiences a concussion, it is recommended to be assessed by a health professional as soon as possible.  Our physiotherapists are trained in the assessment and management of concussion and its associated symptoms and clinical signs.  We work closely with local GPs and sports doctors to provide best practice care for our concussion patients.  Our assessment will include evaluation of all of your symptoms and signs, and development of a return to play and/or return to work/learn programs to help your recovery.   

Different sports have different criteria for return to play after a concussion.  Our physiotherapists will work within the criteria for a player’s sport, or that dictated by the sport’s governing body, to ensure a safe and sustainable return.  In general, the return to sport, school or work activities is staged to ensure no aggravation of symptoms occurs.  This is individualised, closely monitored and may take 2-3 weeks or longer in some cases.   

It is important to remember that a concussion is an injury just like an ankle sprain or a hamstring tear.  When you get injured, it takes time for your body to heal. 

When you injure your brain in the case of concussion, it too takes time to heal.   

If you want to find out more about concussion injuries, feel free to talk to one of our physiotherapists.  There are also lots of resources on the internet on this topic.  Some useful links are provided below to help guide you.   






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