Many young athletes suffer from concussion at some point in their lives. While in many cases, it does not have serious consequences, there are times when a concussion can have negative signs and symptoms. Many young athletes are eager to get back into the sport after the injury but it is important to get complete mental and physical rest to give the brain time to recover. The first 24 hours following a concussion are crucial and having a physical therapist on hand can help to provide necessary care.
A concussion can limit daily functioning while also keeping the child away from a sport that he loves. It is important to ensure that the child is seen by a pediatrician or primary care physician to rule out any additional injuries. The best concussion management will help to address any impairment that may be because of the injury. Following are some of the reasons that a physical therapist is necessary when treating a child who has a concussion injury.
Treating neck pain and headache
Physical therapy is necessary for the management of neck pain or headache. A concussion can cause a cervicogenic headache, which is caused by tightness or injury in the neck muscles due to the limited mobility of neck joints. The joints are attached to the skull and any injury or impairment can cause the headaches. The physical therapist uses manual therapy and exercises to help increase the mobility of the structures and this in turn helps to alleviate the headaches.
Balance and coordination training
A concussion often causes problems with balance or coordination and this is usually evident in the person being unable to walk in a straight line. Following a concussion, the physical therapist helps to strengthen and re-train the systems. Therapy helps to restore function and the child is able to go back to the sport. The severity of the injury will determine the best treatment and it is important to ensure that the child gets complete rest from sports to avoid aggravating the injury.
Returning to physical activity
Post concussion management is designed to help the child to return to physical activity. This means that after the pediatrician has cleared the child, the physical therapist comes in to work with the child. The therapist will monitor the concussion symptoms to help the child gradually return to activity. The physical therapist chooses light aerobic exercises to ease the patient back into activity, before moving to moderate and then intense physical activities. This eventually leads to sport-specific training.
Getting immediate medical attention
Any child who has suffered a concussion needs to get immediate attention. The therapist will help the athlete to return to sports without making the symptoms worse. A gradual return to the sport will involve the introduction of sport-specific training drills before returning to regular practice and eventually competition. Make sure that your child is closely monitored immediately following the injury and throughout the course of treatment.
A pediatrician works closely with the physical therapist to ensure that the child returns to physical activity and to ensure that the child does not continue to suffer from post-concussion issues.