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Can You Get a Concussion From Whiplash?

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A young athlete is being tested for concussions by trying to follow the doctor's index finger.

A concussion is mild traumatic brain damage produced by sudden rapid acceleration and deceleration within the body, causing a stretching and shearing within neurons of the brain . These acceleration and deceleration motions are typically induced by a blow to the head, face, neck, or torso, with the force transferred to the brain. 

Whiplash is a common instance of a sudden and rapid shaking motion of the neck that can result in a concussion. A car accident is typically the cause of whiplash-related concussions.

Early treatment can ensure that you receive the necessary care and insurance advantages. When you come in for car accident treatment, we can analyze your injury, offer physiotherapy, chiropractic, or massage therapy based on your specific needs, and assist you in filing a claim.

What Is a Concussion? 

When the brain shakes inside the skull due to a sports injury or an accident, such as a fall or a car crash, cells within the brain tissue shear and strain, leading to a rapid loss of neurological function: a concussion. Concussions are often brief and do not result in anatomical alterations to the brain.

While most people recover within a month, symptoms can subside more slowly or last longer than expected in some circumstances, leading to Post Concussion Syndrome. Prompt medical evaluation and care can aid in diagnosis and help patients receive correct information, advice, and treatment as needed.

How to Tell If You Have a Concussion

Concussions affect everyone uniquely. If you have been injured and have symptoms, you should be aware of the possibility of brain injury and seek medical assistance within 24 to 48 hours.

Whether you have a concussion and what sort of concussion you may have can be evaluated based on your symptoms, medical records, physical exams, and neurocognitive tests. We can create a treatment plan according to concussion protocols and current SHIFT standards that align with your symptoms and degree of concussion.

Symptoms of a Concussion 

A woman in a grey sweater suffering from severe neck pain.

Concussions can have a variety of symptoms, and sometimes it’s difficult to tell if you’re experiencing one or not. Take a moment to pay attention to how you feel. Concussions can include the following symptoms:

  • Headache or head pressure
  • Neck ache
  • Nauseousness or dizziness
  • Vision distortion
  • Balance issues
  • Light and noise sensitivity 
  • Feeling slow or “in a fog”
  • Concentration issues
  • Having trouble remembering things or feeling confused
  • Fatigue or a lack of energy
  • Drowsiness
  • Increased emotional irritability
  • Sadness
  • Anxiety or nervousness
  • Having difficulty falling asleep

More Serious Symptoms

The symptoms listed below may indicate more serious brain damage than a concussion. If you are experiencing any of these symptoms, go to the nearest emergency service immediately.

  • Neck pain with limited movement
  • Dual vision
  • Arm and leg weakness
  • Tingling/burning sensation in the arms or legs
  • Severe or worsening headache
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Consciousness deterioration
  • Vomiting
  • Increasingly agitated, restless, or belligerent
  • Bruising around the eyes and ears
  • Increasing confusion 
  • Inability to recall the injury

Concussion Treatment 

Depending on the symptoms and how an individual’s condition advances, treating a concussion can entail several options to control symptoms.

Baseline Testing

Baseline testing for athletes in high-risk sports such as hockey or football and individuals in heavy labor-type employment is often a part of concussion treatment plans.

Before a concussion happens, an array of tests are administered at the start of the sporting season to gather a summary of current brain function. That way, if an injury to the head occurs, a baseline of the brain before an injury is available for comparison on the degree of the damage sustained. The examination includes both physical and neuropsychological exams. 

Baseline testing includes neck functionality, vestibular system, focus, visual tracking, equilibrium testing, and motor strength.

Knowing your baseline ability before an injury makes it possible to set a clear goal for getting you back to normal.

Manual Therapy

Manual therapy is a form of physiotherapy that includes physical movement of the head and neck joints, muscles, and fascia. It can aid in healing concussions and neck problems such as whiplash. Manual therapy increases blood flow, which reduces headaches and disorientation.

Exercise Therapy

Exercise therapy helps with concussion symptoms after the initial 24 to 72-hour suggested rest period. Activity promotes blood flow, which can aid in recovery of potential autonomic dysregulations and balance impairments.  

Visual / Vestibular Therapy 

Vestibular rehabilitation can help with a number of concussion symptoms, especially balance issues and dizziness. Visual and vestibular rehab can also help reduce dizziness, visual abnormalities, concentration issues, and memory problems. A referral to an optometrist for vision therapy may be discussed if necessary.

Returning to Life

Understanding the importance of concussion care allows you to return to normal with fewer consequences. The Running Shoe Restorative Healthcare team can help you avoid future concussions by informing and supporting you through healing–getting you back to safely participating in activities, work, or school is our goal. Get started by booking your appointment today.

Written by Shaheeza Haji

Shaheeza Haji graduated with a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Alberta in 2009, followed by a Master of Physiotherapy from the University of Western Ontario in 2011. Being a staunch believer in “exercise is medicine” she attained her Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist status though the National Strength and Conditioning Association in 2013. At the end of that same year, Shaheeza was involved in a major life-altering electrocution incident whereby she sustained a number of injuries which required surgery and years of rehabilitation. One of these injuries was a traumatic brain injury; it is thought that the electrical current exploded within the confined space of her skull, which for lack of better terminology was coined by her medical team as an “electrical concussion.” This lead to her becoming certified in the treatment and management of Concussions in 2018. Also in 2018, Shaheeza began instructing at CDI college, heading up the Rehabilitation Therapy Assistant Diploma Program. Today, Shaheeza combines her love of teaching, her passion of concussion research, and the empathy & experience from her own injury to help those with acute and chronic concussions. Shaheeza also has a drive for entrepreneurship, being the CEO of Running Shoe Inc., directing both Running Shoe Restorative Healthcare and the Calgary Concussion Centre.
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