Concussion Therapy

A concussion is a temporary change in brain function caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, neck, or body. Most people think of concussions as injuries that happen during sporting events, but a concussion can happen anywhere, at any time. Some of the more common non-sport causes of concussion include:

  • Falls
  • Workplace accidents
  • Playground accidents
  • Motor vehicle accidents (car crashes)
  • Assault

One of the biggest differences between sport related and non-sport related concussions is that athletes can usually depend on coaches, athletic directors, and trainers to recognize the signs of concussion. That's not necessarily true at home, in the workplace, or on the street (whether as a pedestrian or driver)

Common symptoms that can be addressed in therapy

  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Balance problems
  • Neck pain
  • Vision changes
  • Sensitivity to light, sound, and/or movement
  • Fatigue or feeling sluggish, hazy, or foggy
  • Memory and/or concentration problems
  • Changes in sleep
  • Changes in mood

A growing base of research suggests that an early, gradual return to activity may be helpful after an initial 24-72 hours of rest after injury. Studies have shown that extremes of prolonged strict rest or intense bouts of cognitive or physical activity may be associated with longer recovery. Current evidence also suggests that early treatment may significantly reduce recovery time following a concussion. Therapists can help you make short-term changes to your routine and provide specific exercises to help reduce your symptoms as you recover. 

Goals of therapy 

Return to learn, return to activity, return to work, return to play.

To reach these goals, your therapist will:

  • Provide early education on modifying your activities and managing your symptoms to allow a return to normal activities as quickly as possible.
  • Develop a program to directly improve your concussion symptoms.
  • Provide individualized guidance to gradually return to learn play, work, activities, and sport.

Your Therapy Team

UnityPoint Health's multidisciplinary concussion team includes providers who specialize in concussion care for individuals of all ages. When you are referred to therapy, you will first see an Occupational Therapist or a Physical Therapist who will talk to you about your current injury, medical history, history of concussions, symptoms you are experiencing, and how they impact your life. A thorough examination will be completed to help identify both areas of strengths and challenges. The therapist will tailor activity and exercise recommendations to your needs. Depending on your individual symptoms and challenges, additional specialty providers may be involved in your care. All therapists can refer to other specialists to make sure your needs are met.

  • Occupational Therapist
  • Vestibular Physical Therapist
  • Orthopedic Physical Therapist
  • Speech and Language Pathologist
  • Case Manager