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Concussions: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and What to Do

Concussions: Signs, Symptoms, Causes and What to Do

Injured soccer player seeing a doctor for concussion

Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries caused by a blow to the head. Most patients with a concussion recover in a short period of time without intervention. However, many patients will have lingering symptoms and require treatment. Under the management of a physician and physical therapist, these patients can restore their previous level of function and activity.

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

Concussions can present with an assortment of lingering complications specific to the individual. Some of the symptoms patients may experience are:

  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Difficulty focusing/reading
  • Dizziness/nausea
  • Balance and coordination difficulties 
  • Inability to perform aerobic activities

Often, patients may not experience symptoms immediately following the concussion. It may not be until the following day that symptoms present.

Concussion symptoms can make it difficult to participate in school, sports or daily activities. Without proper medical and physical therapy intervention, these symptoms can last for an extended period of time.

Causes of and Treatment for a Concussion

The most common cause of a concussion is a hit to the head. However, patients may also get a concussion when experiencing whiplash.

When a patient has experienced a concussion, it can disrupt the brain’s ability to perform a variety of tasks. A team approach, including seeing a physician with experience in treating concussions, getting a correct diagnosis and initiating physical therapy, can help to retrain these motor processes, limit the duration of symptoms, and return a patient to their previous level of function.

What to Do If You Suspect a Concussion

If you suspect that you have symptoms following a concussion, schedule an appointment with your physician. After your evaluation, your physician may refer you to physical therapy for evaluation and treatment.

After evaluating your impairments and functional deficits, the physical therapist will create a plan of care that will incorporate your goals and return you to your previous level of function. Physical therapy will focus on eye muscle re-education, neck strengthening, balance training and aerobic activity.

If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to us at the Center for Rehabilitation and Sports Excellence and talk with our concussion specialist Michael Phelan, DPT, at (732) 537-0909 Ext. 2404. You can also email Michael at