Should I go to physical therapy right after a concussion?

Concussion Physical Therapy

On average, about 3 million concussions happen each year. They can be caused by auto accidents, sports injuries or traumatic falls that injure the head. While most concussion symptoms go away on their own, some patients may require physical therapy treatment to help them return to their normal quality of life.

The most common symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Headache or neck pain.
  • Nausea.
  • Vomiting.
  • Light sensitivity.
  • Difficulty focusing.
  • Difficulty balancing.
  • General confused feeling.

For many adults, concussion symptoms will begin to alleviate a few days after the injury, though it may take up to 10 to 14 days to fully recover. For children, concussion symptoms may take up to four weeks to subside. 

The question most people ask themselves is when is it appropriate to seek physical therapy treatment for a concussion, and when is it OK to just wait out the symptoms on your own. Here are a few things to consider. 

When should you seek physical therapy after a concussion?

While it may take up to 14 days for some adults to fully recover from a concussion, you don’t have to wait that long to seek treatment. Physical therapy for a concussion may be the right answer if you find your symptoms worsening after a few days, or if you are unable to do normal daily activities because of your concussion. 

For example, some people may have difficulty with their vision or balance after a more serious concussion. For these instances, it may be beneficial to begin concussion physical therapy sooner rather than later to help ensure that these symptoms clear up and don’t worsen over time.

For the more minor symptoms, such as a headache, concussion physical therapy may not be needed. Monitor your headaches and determine if the pain is worsening over the next few days, which will help you figure out if physical therapy can help relieve your symptoms. 

Types of physical therapy for concussion treatment

If you do decide that physical therapy is the best route for your concussion treatment, you can expect to receive some or all of the following treatments:

  1. Exercise and stretchingGuided exercises and stretches will help relieve some of the tension in your neck and shoulders, restore strength and mobility in some of the injured tissue, and help you regain your balance and coordination.
  2. Manual therapy Manual therapy works with exercise and stretching to help restore range of motion to the joints and muscles that may have been damaged during the injury. 
  3. Vestibular rehabilitation Vestibular rehabilitation can help promote balance and vision focus, which is a significant side effect of a serious concussion. 

If you think physical therapy for concussion treatment may be right for you, contact our team at Whatcom Physical Therapy today and schedule a free screening. We can walk you through the treatment options available and help you decide your next best step toward healing.