Physical Therapy for Concussion: How Does It Work?

Danh Ngo"Staying Active" Division, Brain Health, Exercise Tips

Concussions are a very serious brain injury that should always be treated as a serious medical condition. There are over three million concussions reported in the US every year.

A concussion must have appropriate treatment to avoid repeat injury. Physicians recommend treatment until complete recovery to avoid complications. Some are even using physical therapy for concussion treatment. 

A concussion occurs when you receive a blow to the head. Many concussions result from sports-related injuries or accidents. The brain will bump or move inside the skull which causes mild injury to the brain. Concussions can range in severity but result in damages to brain cells. 

Treatments for Concussions

When you have a concussion, the most common treatment is bed rest. Sometimes you may have to be observed in the hospital overnight. Mild pain relievers for pain and plenty of fluids are also advised. 

The problem is that these recommendations do not treat to complete recovery. Many children and high school athletes suffer from concussions. One to two weeks of treatment does not completely treat the condition. 

There are recent studies that have shown positive findings for using physical therapy. Physical therapy (PT) for concussion treatment is becoming an important part of a full recovery. 

Why Use Physical Therapy for Concussion Recovery?

Physical therapists are integral to the multidisciplinary medical team for treatment. PT’s are experts in the movements of the body. They have a good understanding of how the muscles in the bodywork and affect each other. 

Using this knowledge in conjunction with medical interventions can improve care. It’s important to remember that PT itself is not an acceptable treatment for concussions. You will still need to seek medical attention. 

Care from PT enhances the medical team for your treatment. PT can introduce another layer of care to help reduce the risks of re-injury in the future. 

How Do Physical Therapists Treat Concussions?

Physical therapists have treatments to help before and after a concussion. They are an important part of the care of athletes, especially teen athletes. The use of assessments and treatments can help in the prevention and care of concussions. 


One way that PT’s are paving the way in concussion care is through raising awareness. PT’s can go into sporting programs to give education and resources to athletes. Stigma and lack of knowledge about risks associated with concussions often lead to such injuries. 

As a result, PT’s have been creating awareness programs for athletes and coaches. These programs address stigmas about concussions and provide the player’s facts. They highlight the importance of full treatment of concussions and also provide preventative information to avoid injury. 

Informational programs offered by PT’s has helped to reduce injuries. It has helped to decrease the number of untreated concussions as well. These programs have become vital to reducing the risks of concussions. 


Physical therapists have developed assessments that help to treat concussions. These assessments use a series of physical and cognitive tests. The results create a baseline for the individual that helps doctors with care and treatment if a concussion occurs. 

Assessments are great for high-risk athletes to build an image of their brain health. When completed before any injuries occur, the doctor can obtain a good picture of their health. 

If the athlete has a concussion the doctor can use the information to ensure a full recovery. The doctor can better understand how it has affected the brain. Giving them better assurances that the brain has recovered before release. 

These assessments have become a vital part of the treatment for athletes. Many have sought out these treatments before starting a high-risk sport.

The use of these baselines has improved care in sports like football. There is over 300,000 concussion reported from football-related injuries. So, these assessments are very important. 

Managed Care

If a concussion occurs, then the use of physical therapy can improve care. Not all injuries are preventable so having quality care is vital. Treatment of concussions should include care from a medical team. 

Concussion care teams should include medical physicians as well as a physical therapist. Having a multidisciplinary team enhances treatment, improving the treatment and care of the patient. 

Physical therapists use a variety of techniques to care for concussion patients. Including treatment of the spine, vestibular rehabilitation, submaximal exercise and treating specific symptoms. 

Their knowledge of the human body helps them to develop a quality treatment. A PT can pinpoint areas of the body to help reduce specific symptoms. 

Dizziness, headache, neck pain, and impaired balance and coordination improve significantly with frequent visits to a PT. A PT can also design care programs that provide relief of these symptoms and improve health. 

What to Expect from Physical Therapy?

Physical therapy uses a variety of exercises and treatments to manage the patient’s symptoms. Depending on what symptoms you have will determine your care. A doctor will recommend PT if you need to recover from symptoms related to a concussion. 

Your PT will complete an assessment to determine the best strategy to treat the symptoms. This might include exercises, use of equipment, or massage. 

It may also include balance and stability exercises. This will help with symptoms of dizziness and lack of coordination. It might include neck exercises or message.

This will help with neck and back pain. The PT will design the best treatment for your symptoms. One of the best things about PT care is that it is specific to you. 

Regardless of your symptoms, physical therapists have a variety of treatments to help. The use of physical therapy for concussion care is important and on the rise. Using a Sports Medicine Physical Therapist Specialist for concussion-related injury will help you recover quicker and completely from your injury. 

If you suffered from a past car accident, played contact sports, or fell down in the past or recently, these are the few occassion that seeing specialist is crucial. The latest concussion research is still new and we have stayed up to date so we can provide the latest cutting edge care for you.

If you’re still looking for the right physical therapist contact us today for more information on how we can help.  We take concussion matters very seriously and can help you understand how you can help yourself.


Danh Ngo PT, DPT, OCS, SCS

Doctor of Physical Therapy

Board Certified Specialist in Orthopedic and Sports Medicine

Mind Body Health Results Coach