Head Conditions

Learn more about the head injuries and conditions we treat using physiotherapy:

Concussions

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when a person experiences a blow or jolt to the head or body, causing the brain to move rapidly within the skull. This movement can result in various neurological symptoms and temporary impairment of brain function.

What are the causes of a concussion?

Common causes of concussions include sports injuries, falls, motor vehicle accidents, and physical assaults. It’s important to note that a concussion can occur even if there is no loss of consciousness. Symptoms may appear immediately after the injury or may take several hours or days to develop.

What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

Common symptoms of a concussion include:

  1. Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head.
  2. Confusion or feeling dazed.
  3. Temporary loss of consciousness.
  4. Memory loss or amnesia surrounding the event.
  5. Dizziness or problems with balance.
  6. Nausea or vomiting.
  7. Sensitivity to light or noise.
  8. Blurred vision or difficulty focusing.
  9. Fatigue or feeling tired.
  10. Changes in mood, such as irritability, anxiety, or depression.
  11. Sleep disturbances, including insomnia or excessive sleepiness.

What physiotherapy treatment is available to help treat concussion?

Physiotherapy plays a significant role in the management and rehabilitation of individuals with concussions. The primary goals of physiotherapy for concussion are to reduce symptoms, improve balance and coordination, restore cognitive and physical function, and facilitate a safe return to daily activities, school, work, and sports. Here are some common components of physiotherapy for concussion:

  1. Initial Assessment: A thorough evaluation is conducted by a physiotherapist to assess the individual’s symptoms, balance, coordination, vision, and cognitive function. This helps in creating an individualized treatment plan.
  2. Rest and Gradual Return to Activity: Initially, a period of rest may be recommended to allow the brain to heal. Once symptoms begin to improve, a gradual return to activity protocol is followed, slowly reintroducing physical and cognitive tasks.
  3. Vestibular Rehabilitation: The vestibular system, responsible for balance and spatial orientation, is often affected in concussions. Vestibular rehabilitation exercises can help address dizziness, imbalance, and gaze instability.
  4. Oculomotor Training: Visual disturbances are common after a concussion. Oculomotor exercises are used to improve eye tracking, coordination, and visual focus.
  5. Cervical Spine (Neck) Treatment: Concussions can be associated with neck injuries. Physiotherapy may include exercises and manual therapy techniques to address any cervical spine issues.
  6. Cardiovascular Exercise: Gradual, low-impact cardiovascular exercises may be prescribed to improve overall conditioning, as long as they don’t exacerbate symptoms.
  7. Education and Activity Modification: Patients are educated about concussion symptoms and advised to avoid activities that may worsen their condition, such as physical contact, bright screens, or excessive cognitive demands.
  8. Balance and Proprioceptive Exercises: Specific exercises are used to improve balance, coordination, and proprioception, which helps individuals maintain a stable posture and avoid falls.
  9. Progressive Return to Sport Protocol: Athletes recovering from concussions need a structured and supervised return-to-sport plan, which includes incremental increases in physical and cognitive demands.
  10. Psychological Support: Dealing with the aftermath of a concussion can be emotionally challenging. Physiotherapists may provide support and refer patients for additional psychological assistance if needed.

 

It’s essential for individuals with concussions to receive proper medical evaluation and follow the guidance of a healthcare team, which may include a neurologist, sports medicine physician, and physiotherapist.

The recovery time for concussions varies among individuals, and pushing too hard or returning to activities too quickly can prolong recovery or increase the risk of re-injury. Patience and adherence to the prescribed rehabilitation plan are crucial for a successful recovery.

TMJ (Temporomandibular Joint Disorder)

What is a TMJ disorder?

TMJ stands for temporomandibular joint, which is the joint that connects your jawbone to your skull. It is located on each side of your face, just in front of your ears. The temporomandibular joint allows you to open and close your mouth, as well as move your jaw from side to side and back and forth.

TMJ disorders, also known as temporomandibular joint disorders or TMD, refer to a group of conditions that cause pain and dysfunction in the jaw joint and the surrounding muscles.

Some common symptoms of TMJ disorders include jaw pain or tenderness, clicking or popping sounds when opening or closing the mouth, difficulty or discomfort while chewing, headaches, and earaches.

What causes TMJ disorders?

The exact cause of TMJ disorders is often unclear and can vary from person to person. However, several factors may contribute to their development, such as jaw injury, arthritis, teeth grinding or clenching (bruxism), stress, or poor alignment of the jaw or teeth.

What can physiotherapy do to help TMJ disorders?

Physiotherapy can be a beneficial part of the treatment plan for TMJ disorder, and it typically focuses on improving jaw function, reducing pain, and addressing underlying causes. Here are some common physiotherapy treatments for TMJ disorder:

  1. Manual Therapy: Physiotherapists may use manual techniques to improve jaw mobility and reduce muscle tension. This can involve gentle manipulation of the jaw joint and surrounding muscles to release tightness and restore normal movement.
  2. Exercise and Stretching: Specific exercises and stretches may be prescribed to strengthen the jaw muscles and improve their flexibility. These exercises can help stabilize the joint and reduce pain.
  3. Posture and Alignment: Poor posture can contribute to TMJ disorder. A physiotherapist can assess your posture and provide guidance on improving it to reduce stress on the jaw joint.
  4. Heat and Cold Therapy: Applying heat or cold packs to the jaw area can help reduce pain and inflammation.
  5. Dietary and Lifestyle Modifications: Your physiotherapist may provide guidance on dietary changes, such as avoiding hard or chewy foods, as well as lifestyle modifications to minimize jaw strain.
  6. Stress Management: Stress can exacerbate TMJ disorder symptoms. Physiotherapists may teach relaxation techniques and stress management strategies to help reduce tension in the jaw and associated muscles.
  7. Orthotics and Splints: In some cases, a dentist may provide an oral splint or orthotic device to help alleviate TMJ symptoms. Physiotherapists can work in conjunction with dentists to ensure the proper fit and function of these devices.
  8. Education: Understanding the causes and contributing factors of TMJ disorder is essential for managing the condition. Physiotherapists can educate you about posture, ergonomics, and habits that may be aggravating your symptoms.

 

It’s important to note that the specific treatment plan for TMJ disorder will depend on the individual’s symptoms, the severity of the condition, and the underlying causes. Therefore, it’s crucial to consult with a healthcare professional, such as a physiotherapist or a dentist specializing in TMJ disorders, for a thorough assessment and personalized treatment plan.

In some cases, a multidisciplinary approach involving physiotherapy, dental care, and other treatments may be necessary to effectively manage TMJ disorder.  Book an appointment with one of our FCAMT physiotherapists.

What is Vertigo?

Vertigo is a type of dizziness characterized by a false sensation of spinning or movement. It often feels like you or your surroundings are spinning or rotating, even when you are stationary. Vertigo is usually a symptom of an underlying medical condition rather than a condition on its own.

What Causes Vertigo?

Vertigo can be caused by various factors, including:

  1. Benign Paroxysmal Positional Vertigo (BPPV): This is one of the most common causes of vertigo and occurs due to small calcium particles in the inner ear disrupting normal balance function.
  2. Vestibular Neuritis or Labyrinthitis: These conditions involve inflammation of the inner ear or the nerves that control balance, often due to viral infections.
  3. Meniere’s Disease: Meniere’s disease is a chronic inner ear condition characterized by vertigo, hearing loss, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), and ear fullness.
  4. Migraines: Some people with migraines experience vestibular symptoms, including vertigo.
  5. Medications: Certain medications can cause vertigo as a side effect.
  6. Head Injuries: Trauma to the head can damage the inner ear or the balance centers in the brain, leading to vertigo.
  7. Other Causes: Less common causes include tumors, multiple sclerosis, and blood circulation problems.

What types of physiotherapy treatments can help vertigo?

Physiotherapy treatment for vertigo often involves a specialized approach called vestibular rehabilitation therapy (VRT). VRT is designed to help individuals with vertigo, particularly when it is related to vestibular disorders. Here are some common physiotherapy treatments and techniques used in VRT for vertigo:

  1. Canalith Repositioning Maneuvers: If your vertigo is caused by benign paroxysmal positional vertigo (BPPV), which is characterized by loose calcium deposits in the inner ear, your physiotherapist may perform specific maneuvers like the Epley, Semont, or Brandt-Daroff exercises. These maneuvers aim to reposition the calcium deposits in your inner ear to reduce vertigo symptoms.
  2. Gaze Stabilization Exercises: These exercises are designed to improve your ability to keep your gaze steady despite head movements. They often involve focusing on a stationary object while moving your head in various directions or tracking a moving object while keeping your head still.
  3. Balance Training: Balance exercises are essential for improving your overall stability and reducing the risk of falls. Your physiotherapist may have you perform activities like standing on one leg, walking on uneven surfaces, or practicing dynamic balance tasks.
  4. Habituation Exercises: Habituation exercises expose you to movements or positions that trigger vertigo in a controlled and gradual manner. Over time, these exercises help your brain adapt to the triggers, reducing the intensity of vertigo symptoms.
  5. Eye-Head Coordination Exercises: These exercises focus on coordinating your eye and head movements to reduce dizziness during head turns and changes in gaze direction.
  6. Customized Exercise Programs: Your physiotherapist will create a personalized exercise program tailored to your specific needs and the underlying cause of your vertigo. They will provide clear instructions on how to perform these exercises at home.
  7. Education: Understanding your condition is crucial for effective treatment. Your physiotherapist will provide information about your vertigo and strategies to manage triggers, improve balance, and enhance your overall quality of life.
  8. Progress Monitoring: Throughout your treatment, your physiotherapist will monitor your progress and adjust your exercise program as needed to ensure you are on the right track.

It’s important to undergo a comprehensive evaluation by a physiotherapist, to determine the cause of your vertigo and create an appropriate treatment plan. VRT is most effective when tailored to your specific type of vertigo, and consistency with prescribed exercises is essential for achieving positive outcomes.

With proper guidance and commitment, many individuals with vertigo can experience significant relief and improved balance through physiotherapy treatments.   To book your assessment with one of our FCAMT Physiotherapists, click here.

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