Physiotherapy for Concussion in Hockey

Keep your head in the game: 5 ways a physiotherapist can get you back on the ice after a concussion.

Concussions are a common and serious injury in hockey, with the potential to cause long-term consequences if not properly managed. If you're a hockey player who has suffered a concussion, you may be wondering how to get back on the ice as safely and quickly as possible. That's where physiotherapy can help. In this blog, we'll explore five ways a physiotherapist can help you get back in the game after a concussion and keep you there.

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Table of Contents

Assessing and Managing Symptoms
Graduated Return to Play Protocol
Balance and Proprioception Exercises
Vestibular Rehabilitation
Neurocognitive Training
Conclusion
FAQ

Assessing and Managing Symptoms

The first step in managing a concussion is to accurately assess and track your symptoms. Symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person and may include headache, dizziness, fatigue, difficulty with memory or concentration, irritability, and sleep disturbance. It's important to report all of your symptoms to your physiotherapist, so they can help you to develop strategies for managing them. These may include rest and relaxation techniques, such as taking breaks from screens or other stimulating activities and avoiding activities that worsen your symptoms.

Avoid in the 2 days post concussion:

  • TV/Video games
  • Intense Exercise
  • Reading
  • Texting/screens
  • Work
  • School

Things you can do 2 days post concussion include:

  • Walking
  • Check-in with a healthcare professional
  • Listen to podcasts or music
  • Relaxing time with family
  • Cooking

By accurately assessing and managing your symptoms, a physiotherapist can help you to recover as quickly as possible.

Graduated Return to Play Protocol

After a concussion, it's important to follow a gradual and structured plan to return to the ice. This is known as a graduated return to play (GRTP) protocol. A physiotherapist can work with you to develop a customized GRTP that takes into account your specific needs and goals. The GRTP typically involves a series of progressively more challenging activities, such as light exercise, sport-specific drills, and full-contact practice. The goal is to safely and effectively return you to the ice while minimizing the risk of further injury. Your physiotherapist will closely monitor your progress and adjust the GRTP as needed based on your symptoms and performance.

Balance and Proprioception Exercises

Good balance and proprioception (awareness of one's body in space) are important for hockey players, particularly when it comes to quick movements and changing direction. After a concussion, these skills may be impaired, leading to an increased risk of further injury. A physiotherapist can use balance and proprioception exercises to help you improve these skills and reduce your risk of injury on the ice. These may include activities such as standing on one leg, walking on a balance beam, or catching and throwing a ball while standing on a stability ball. By practicing these exercises regularly, you can improve your balance and proprioception and get back to the ice with confidence.

Vestibular Rehabilitation

Concussions can often cause problems with the vestibular system, which is responsible for balance and spatial orientation. Vestibular rehabilitation is a type of physiotherapy that can help to improve these skills and reduce dizziness and other vestibular symptoms after a concussion. A physiotherapist can work with you on a series of specific exercises to improve your vestibular function. These may include activities such as gaze stabilization exercises, where you focus on a stationary object while moving your head, or balance training, where you practice standing or walking on an unstable surface. By participating in vestibular rehabilitation, you can get back on the ice with improved balance and spatial awareness.

Neurocognitive Training

Concussions can also affect cognitive function, including memory, concentration, and decision-making. Neurocognitive training is a type of physiotherapy that can help to improve these skills and reduce the risk of further concussions. A physiotherapist can work with you on a series of cognitive exercises, such as memory games or problem-solving tasks, to help you get back to your best on and off the ice. By participating in neurocognitive training, you can improve your cognitive function and reduce your risk of further concussions.

Conclusion

In conclusion, if you're a hockey player who has suffered a concussion, physiotherapy can be an effective tool in helping you recover and return to the ice. The key to successful recovery is accurately assessing and managing symptoms, following a graduated return to play protocol, improving balance and proprioception, undergoing vestibular rehabilitation, and participating in neurocognitive training. A physiotherapist can work with you to develop a customized plan that takes into account your specific needs and goals and help you get back in the game and keep your head in the game. With the right plan and the help of a physiotherapist, you can safely and effectively return to the ice and minimize the risk of further injury. Contact one of the Human Integrated Performance physiotherapists to get you back to competing! 

FAQ

How can a physiotherapist help me recover from a concussion?

A physiotherapist can help you recover from a concussion by assessing and managing your symptoms, developing a graduated return to play protocol, using balance and proprioception exercises to improve your balance and awareness of your body in space, participating in vestibular rehabilitation to improve your vestibular function, and engaging in neurocognitive training to improve your cognitive function. By addressing all of these areas, a physiotherapist can help you recover from a concussion and get back on the ice as safely and quickly as possible.

How long will it take me to recover from a concussion?

The length of time it takes to recover from a concussion can vary depending on the severity of the injury and the individual's unique circumstances. Most people recover within 14 days, but can be longer if not managed properly., while others may take longer. It's important to follow the guidance of your physiotherapist and medical team and not return to the ice until you have fully recovered and are cleared to do so.

Are there any long-term effects of a concussion?

In some cases, concussions can have long-term effects, such as persistent headaches or other symptoms, or an increased risk of further concussions. It's important to follow a proper concussion management plan and seek medical attention if you suspect you have suffered a concussion. By working with a physiotherapist and other healthcare professionals

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