Head trauma can occur when the head strikes a stationary object, the head is stuck by an object, or from an acceleration/deceleration such in an auto accident in which rapid movement of the head occurs. These injuries can cause quick shifting of delicate brain tissue within the skull. An individual does not have to have a loss of consciousness for a serious head injury to occur. According to current research, nerve signals in the brain can be disrupted for up to 30 days after one single concussion. If additional concussions occur, there will be an increase in recovery time and symptoms can worsen. Often times brain imaging does not show significant changes in the brain, but an individual may still have significant symptoms. Symptoms lasting 4 weeks after head trauma are classified as Post Concussion Syndrome. Two days of cognitive rest is recommended according to recent studies.
Vestibular (inner ear) or Visual dysfunction occurs in 90% of individuals with head trauma. Dr. Mary Finck, PT, DPT has many years of experience working with individuals with various brain diagnosis. Vestibular therapy is a special form of therapy that helps alleviate dizziness, gaze instability, blurry vision, balance dysfunction, or difficulty with tracking due to vestibular dysfunction. The brain learns to compensate and use other sensory systems to substitute for deficits, but this can impair recovery. The brain gets better when it’s asked what to do, so vestibular therapy is focused on recalibrating the brain to function in a normal matter in regard to visual tracking and balance. Each individual with a head injury is different, thus it takes special assessment and patient-orientated approach to help. These strategies can include habituation & adaptation exercises, gaze stabilization, balance training, and integrating functional vestibular issues.