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Prisma Health Physical Therapy Specialists – Post-Concussion Program

At Prisma Health Physical Therapy Specialists, we provide treatment and management to reduce symptoms of headache and neck/back pain, dizziness, imbalance and blurry vision that result from head injuries. Additionally, your physical therapist will develop a plan of care for a safe transition back to school, work and play.

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that usually occurs after a hit to the head. A hit to the head does not always include loss of consciousness.

Concussion symptoms

After a concussion, individuals may experience one or more of the following symptoms:
  • Dizziness
  • Poor attention and concentration
  • Headaches
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Increased agitation and changes in mood
  • Difficulty with speech
  • Difficulty with reading and writing
  • Changes in sleep patterns, memory loss or slowed reaction times

These symptoms usually go away within 10 days for adults and within 21 days for children and adolescents. 

What is post-concussion syndrome?

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a disorder in which these symptoms persist beyond the typical 10-21 day recovery time. PCS affects 2 out of 10 people who sustain a concussion. PCS in children and adolescents is a concern because their brains are developing new skills daily.

Treatment options

Physical therapy

In post-concussion physical therapy, we assess the following areas:
  • Musculoskeletal integrity of the cervical (neck) and thoracic (back) spine
  • Vestibulo-occular functioning
  • Balance
  • School, home, work and sport activity tolerance
  • Return to sport

After the assessment, a physical therapist will provide treatment and management to reduce symptoms of headache and neck/back pain, dizziness, imbalance and blurry vision. Strategies to address fatigue and decreased activity tolerance are also provided. Additionally, the physical therapist will develop a plan of care for a safe transition back to school, work and play.

Occupational therapy

In post-concussion occupational therapy, we assess the following areas:
  • Balance
  • Cognition and memory
  • Attention to task
  • Eye-hand coordination
  • Return to sports
  • Visual problems
  • Reaction times
  • Executive skills

After the assessment, an occupational therapist will provide strategies to manage symptoms such as dizziness, headache, sensitivity to light and noise. In addition, the therapist will develop treatment plans to improve function within daily activities and assist in the transition and return back to work, sports or play.

Speech therapy

In post-concussion speech therapy, we assess:
  • Speech and language skills
  • Reading and writing skills
  • Reduced attention/concentration
  • Memory
  • Organizational and executive skills that negatively affect communication-cognition, work re-entry and going back to school

After the assessment, a speech therapist will provide treatment for aphasia – the difficulty to speak, read, write and understand language – as well as treat poor attention/ concentration, memory, organizational and executive skills.

Psychological therapy

In our post-concussion program, we refer to a psychologist who assesses emotional and cognitive symptoms plus functioning. The psychologist can help patients and families manage emotional symptoms like anxiety, frustration irritability, sadness, anger, depression, lack of motivation and personality changes. The therapist will work closely with schools to develop an integrated plan for a patient’s return to learning and the classroom. Psychological therapy is available on a referral basis only.