In the early stage of concussion, not only do you require physical rest, you also need complete cognitive rest…
What exactly is ‘cognitive’ rest?
A cognitive task is any task that involves paying attention and concentration. Computer work, watching TV, using your cellphone, reading, etc, are all tasks that fall into that category. So, cognitive rest is spending time avoiding such tasks. Of course, it is not possible to achieve complete cognitive rest. Therefore, the best thing you can do – especially in the first 3 days after sustaining a concussion – is try to limit time spent on cognitive tasks as much as possible and ensure these activities DO NOT WORSEN your symptoms. If the activity you try worsens your symptoms or you find symptoms that may have already resolved come back, then this activity should be completely avoided.
The goal within the first 3-10 days after a concussion is as much rest as possible. The more time you allow your brain to heal, the sooner your symptoms will resolve. Remember, however, that many factors play into healing time after a concussion and no two people will have the same experience. This is especially important for those of you who need to go to school or get to work; if you can swing taking a few days off initially, that would be best, however, in the other 4 to 7 days, you may need to modify how much time you spend on cognitive activities related to the demands of the classroom or workplace.
It is important that you see a Physiotherapist for an initial visit within those first 7 to 10 days. Proper resting and sleeping strategies will be provided and a foundation for your concussion rehabilitation protocol will be planned out. Your Physiotherapist will also assess any injuries to muscles and other structures in your neck that may be associated with your head injury. Also, it is at this time where recommendations can be made for the classroom or workplace so that teachers and employers understand your required restrictions in order to ensure there is no unnecessary strain put on your brain!
Included as part of your initial visit is a computerized test called ImPACT which will be used to gauge where you are in terms of memory and reaction time, and monitored throughout your program to determine how much progress you are making!
After 7-10 days, if you are still experiencing symptoms, your brain may be experiencing Post-Concussive Syndrome. Post-Concussion Syndrome means that your brain is still working really hard trying to do everything it needs to do but is essentially running on half a tank of gas instead of a full tank. At this point, your Physiotherapist will assess your visual and vestibular (sense of balance) systems and take you through a rehab program in order to continue to help heal the brain.
Have you had a concussion and need some help? Know someone who has? Give Avenue Physiotherapy a call!