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Physical Therapy After a Head Injury

What does Physical Therapy after a Head Injury Look Like?

by Kimberly Smith, PT, DPT, VRTLeave a Comment

I can’t begin to describe how often I get the question, “What can you do for the brain after a concussion in physical therapy?” And my response 100% of the time is, “We evaluate and find the root cause of any of your symptoms.”

These symptoms may include:

  • Headaches or pressure in the head
  • Neck pain
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish or slowed down
  • Drowsiness
  • “Don’t feel right”
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Confusion
  • Concentration or memory problems

As physical therapists, we try to peel back the very intricate layers of a concussion and evaluate each trajectory or system that could be causing the above symptoms. These systems are the musculoskeletal system, specifically the neck and upper body, vestibular system or balance center, oculomotor system (eyes), and your tolerance to exercise. We are also trained to recognize other barriers that may be inhibiting you from feeling “normal,” and we help guide you to find the best resources you may need.

After a thorough evaluation of the systems, we come up with our treatment plan. The plan may include exercises addressing one or all of the above systems, but it is customized to fit your needs. Neck exercises may include stretching and stabilization training, and hands-on manual techniques. You may also use popsicle sticks, checkerboards, and other visual stimulation tools to manage oculomotor challenges. The plan may also include cardiovascular training, balance exercises, and overall resistance training.

The main goal is to return you to YOUR normal and back to all the things you love to do. If you want to return to your sport, you may benefit from a return to play progression. Our first responders or other industrial athletes may also benefit from return-to-work training managed by our therapists. No matter what the goals, we provide the appropriate, tailored treatment to achieve each one.

How a Physical Therapist Can Help

If you have experienced a concussion, contact an Athletico near you. Our team will assess your pain or injury and provide best recommendations for a treatment plan so we can get you back to what you love.

Request a Free Assessment

*Per federal guidelines, beneficiaries of plans such as Medicare, Medicaid, Tricare, VHA and other federally funded plans are not eligible for free assessments.

The Athletico blog is an educational resource written by Athletico employees. Athletico bloggers are licensed professionals who abide by the code of ethics outlined by their respective professional associations. The content published in blog posts represents the opinion of the individual author based on their expertise and experience. The content provided in this blog is for informational purposes only, does not constitute medical advice and should not be relied on for making personal health decisions.

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About the Author:
Kimberly (Kimi) Smith is a Vestibular Physical Therapist with Athletico, specializing in treating vertigo and post-concussions. The "dizzy population" is her passion, having treated this population since 2012. Combining her love for athletics and her Physical Therapy profession has been the main focus of Kimi's career. As a former CCWHA hockey player, she enjoys educating athletes on the importance of injury prevention and healthy training to improve their competitive abilities. The team approach to concussion management has led her to become a respectful resource in the area.

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