How Physical Therapy Can Help in Concussion Recovery

How Physical Therapy Can Help in Concussion Recovery

concussion is a mild type of traumatic brain injury that affects brain function, which often results in headaches, and problems with concentration, memory, coordination, and balance. People across multiple age groups get hospitalized for this condition, ranging from children with over 16,000 visits to people over 75 dealing with 32 percent of hospital stays in 2019 alone. 

Healing from brain injuries like concussions is a delicate process, and the road to recovery will depend on how badly you’re hurt. Rest is part of the process of healing from this condition, but physical therapy also plays a key role in getting back to normal. To understand how physical therapy can help, let’s look at how a concussion affects your body, what physical therapy does to manage it, and when you should start doing it.

Patients in the Washington, DC area dealing with the effects of concussion can get rehabilitative help from Lucia Lee DPT and the skilled physical therapy team at Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation. We strive to help you maximize recovery from injury with a variety of progressive treatments designed to get you on your feet faster and better than ever.

How a concussion affects your body

Any injury that results in a forceful jolt or blow to your head can lead to the disruption of normal brain function, also known as a concussion. This type of injury causes stretching and bruising in nerves and blood vessels in your brain, which results in chemical changes that alter how your brain works for a period of time. During this time, you can experience symptoms like headaches, nausea, vomiting, confusion, blurriness, double vision, light and noise sensitivity, and temporary loss of consciousness.

What physical therapy can do to help

Concussions are a type of rehabilitative injury, meaning that treatment will often include methods that are helped by physical rehabilitation. Physical therapy can be instrumental in helping with:


Since concussions are trauma to your head, they are also likely to affect the neck. In reaction to something that jolts the head, the neck can stiffen, resulting in neck and shoulder pain. Cervical and thoracic spine mobility can be improved by manual therapies and progressed therapeutic exercises. 


This is a type of injury caused by a rapid movement of the head and neck from an impact, similar to the motion of a whip. It is often associated with car accidents, but it is also common in sports injuries, physical abuse, and falls. The symptoms and consequences of whiplash and post concussion syndrome are very similar, and getting both from a forceful impact of the head and neck is common. Manual therapies and progressed therapeutic exercises are also quite useful for improving the damage from whiplash.

Dizziness/ balance

Vestibular rehabilitation focuses on restoring balance, and since dizziness and balance issues are common with concussions, strategies to restore normal movement through physical therapy are part of the process. 


Difficulty with your vision and proper visual tracking of objects are also problems that can result from concussions. If the problems turn out to not be neurological in origin, oculomotor exercises in a controlled environment can help patients acclimate to changes in depth of vision and other visual difficulties.

When to start physical therapy

This brain injury happens minutes after a traumatic event to the head, and symptoms can take hours to appear. The recovery process from this injury varies, but adults often heal within 10-14 days and children can take up to four weeks. Physical therapy can be used as soon as a few days after injury, but if you’re still experiencing symptoms after the normal window of recovery time, physical therapy is likely necessary to help restore normal function.

Injuries to your brain should not be taken lightly, and recovering from concussions should be managed with precision and quality care. If you need rehabilitation to manage a concussion, make an appointment with Sports Therapy and Rehabilitation today to start the road to recovery. 

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