Column: Why is concussion assessment and treatment so important?

submitted by Morinville Physical Therapy 

Concussions are one of the most prevalent injuries in sport with up to 30% of athletes suffering from at least one concussion in a given sport season. Concussions have a serious impact on a developing brain. Research shows that when concussions are managed correctly, they most often result in full recovery. However, when concussions are mismanaged or go undiagnosed, the risk of long-term issues are dramatically increased, including post-concussion syndrome and performance struggles at work, in school and in sport. Further, a subsequent concussion without full recovery from the first significantly increases the potential of permanent, even fatal brain damage. Although concussions cannot be fully prevented, education and training along with prompt and appropriate management can better protect the health and well-being of our athletes, students, and workers.

Can’t any healthcare professional or even google provide me with the solution to this problem?

Despite the overwhelming prevalence of concussions, many healthcare practitioners do not have post-graduate specialization in concussion therapy. They do not have up to date knowledge or skills to safely treat concussions, with most relying on a dated and inaccurate method of treatment, putting our athletes at even further risk of complications following a head injury. Our therapists at Morinville Physical Therapy have completed extensive education and training on concussion management, and continue to advance their understanding and experience in head injuries. Our clinic is a member of the most advanced global concussion care network that has prepared us to provide evidence-based concussion testing and management to the community of Morinville and its surrounding areas.

Why is Morinville Physical Therapy and Sports Injury clinic better than others?

Optimal concussion management at Morinville Physical Therapy begins with baseline testing.

Baseline testing of athletes is a series of physical and cognitive tests designed to provide a pre-injury overview of healthy brain function. Specifically, it assesses:

A thorough review of medical and concussion history

Specific concussion symptom scoring

Questions regarding date, time and orientation to when and where the injury took place

Auditory memory testing

Concentration testing

Vision and visual tracking and processing speed

Balance testing

Reaction time assessment

Strength testing

Delayed recall abilities

Impact testing

Baseline testing is crucial for concussion management as these scores are used as a reference point to compare an individual to if they sustain a head injury. This leads to a return to sport decision being made specific to the individual by using evidence of testing score comparison to prove recovery has occurred.

Following a concussion treatment and management are required, and the sooner the better.

As we know, concussions cannot be avoided altogether, but the manner in which they are treated is entirely in the control of our parents, coaches and individuals themselves. At Morinville Physical Therapy, patients undergo a thorough individual assessment with one of our specialized concussion-trained Physical Therapists to determine the best course of treatment.  Treatments employed include:

manual therapy including massage and joint mobilizations

visual rehabilitation

diet/nutrition/supplementation plan

exercise therapy


reassurance and support

Concussions almost always coincide with a certain degree of neck injury.  Manual therapy to the muscles and joints of the neck assist with associated symptoms. Certain foods, nutrients and supplements are helpful in both the prevention of and recovery from concussion, and our therapists can advise specific education to maximize nutritional benefit during the recovery period. Exercise therapy is the most crucial component of post-concussion care. Rest is no longer considered the best approach to concussion care. As a matter of fact, it is now proven that one of the most important things to do after a concussion is increase the individual’s heart rate regularly to restore blood flow to the brain. Exercise is now part of the solution, not something to completely avoid, as many providers without specific concussion training still recommend. We utilize the standard Return to Play/Work/School strategies that all national sport and governing bodies currently recommend. Patients are guided by our therapists through cognitive and physical activity in a graded manner. We also use a nationally accepted treadmill test, in a controlled environment, to ensure it is safe to increase the athlete’s exertion level without provocation of concussion symptoms.  With a thorough assessment and the right approach from one of our trained Physical Therapists, we can help return patients safely to school, sport and work.

Is it true that all therapists will advise the athlete to stop playing or sit out from sport for a week?

This is false. We use objective tests to ensure the safest approach back to sport. Our therapists will communicate with the patient’s other healthcare practitioners, parents, teachers and coaches to work as a team to safely treat the patient and return them to sport when they are ready. We are truly passionate about returning our patients back to the activities they enjoy.  Many of our therapists at Morinville Physical Therapy were high level athletes themselves. They understand the impact a concussion and loss of sport can have on an athlete’s quality of life.

Contact us at Morinville Physical Therapy by phone or email with any questions regarding our concussion program at (780)-939-5150 or We offer team rates for baseline testing and most insurance companies will reimburse for baseline testing and concussion rehabilitation.

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