What Is A Concussion?
A concussion is also known as a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It is defined as a temporary change in brain functioning and processing that is due to blunt force or a blow to the head.1 No two concussions are the same; car accidents, a simple slip and fall, and a jolt to the upper part of the body and head, are all common causes of concussions. The degree of impact has no correlation to the outcome, which is a common misconception. It is also assumed that a loss of consciousness occurs after the initial hit, however, this is not a prerequisite for a concussion.1
An estimated 300,000 sports-related concussions occur in the United States annually.1 It is only recently that concussions have been recognized as a condition that needs treatment. Most sports organizations have developed concussion protocols and are exercising caution before having their players rejoin games.
Symptoms include headaches, confusion, vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, memory issues, delayed reaction time, fatigue and dizziness.2 A person's rate of recovery depends on a variety of factors. These include a person's overall mental health, quality of sleep, physical health, angle of impact, force of impact, and the body's response to the trauma. A major hit to the head can have no effect, while a small impact to the head can take years to recover.
Concussions have been called an ‘invisible’ illness3, as brain scans and tests are unable to confirm whether a concussion has occurred. Physicians mainly rely on examining the mechanism of injury and a patient's symptoms to confirm a diagnosis. Since the effects of a concussion aren't visible, recovery can be isolating. A patient may question their own symptoms, colleagues may misinterpret requests for accommodations as weakness, and loved ones may feel hopeless due to an inability to understand.
While most individuals with a concussion recover from their symptoms within a couple of weeks, approximately 5-30%4 will experience post-concussion syndrome (PCS), where symptoms persist for over 90 days. Fortunately, through structured physical, cognitive and balance exercises, behavioural therapy, optimal nutrition, stress management techniques, and learning about the intricacies of concussions, the likelihood of a full recovery increases.
- Concussion. (n.d.). Retrieved August 9, 2019, from
- Concussion. (2019, March 16). Retrieved August 9, 2019, from
- CONCUSSIONS - AN INVISIBLE BRAIN INJURY. (n.d.). Retrieved August 9, 2019, from
- What is PCS? (2018, February 26). Retrieved August 9, 2019, from
Barriers To Treatment
Most online resources provide general information about concussions and mild traumatic brain injury (TBI). However, they do not explain what therapies are needed to increase the likelihood of recovery. Without access to the correct resources, concussion patients often accept their new reality and lose hope of ever recovering.
The belief that the best way to deal with a concussion is to sit in a 'dark room' is outdated. Research has shown that by doing specific treatments that address deficiencies acquired through a concussion, symptoms can dramatically reduce, or be eliminated entirely over time.
There can be numerous barriers to getting the care you need, even when proactively seeking help. The most common barriers are:
Knowledge gap: Not knowing where to go, or how to start the process of treating the symptoms.
Timing: Many practitioners can have waiting lists of over 3 months, which means losing valuable time since the onset of injury
Financial: A single appointment with a health professional can range from $75 to upwards of $400 per session. This can be a financial barrier to those without insurance or those who cannot afford sustained care.
Location: Many healthcare professionals can be located far away. This can be a barrier for patients who are unable to travel due to concussion symptoms and/or daily responsibilities