Concussion is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury.

Concussions – Written by Kimberley Pilbrow (BHSc Physiotherapy)

With the start of another Winter Sports season now upon us, now is a good time for athletes, parents, coaches, officials & supporters to increase their knowledge about concussion.

Concussion is a Mild Traumatic Brain Injury which occurs when someone receives impact to the head or body causing a force to be transmitted to the brain, ie ‘shaking’ inside the skull. In a concussion injury there is no change to the macro-structure of the brain. Ie there is no permanent damage to the brain. However, there are changes at a micro level, meaning it may take some time to re-access the areas of the brain that were affected.

Historically people believed that to sustain a concussion you must be “knocked out” (loss of consciousness), this is not true- 90% of concussion occur without any loss of consciousness AND Loss of consciousness does not relate to their long-term outcomes. Ie someone who is knocked out may return safely to sport in 3-4 weeks, where as someone who is not may take 3months to recover- there is no relationship between “severity” of concussion and length of recovery.

As Concussion is a brain Injury- there is a wide range of symptoms such as:

Visible Signs:
-loss of consciousness
-slow to get up
-unsteady on feet/poor balance
-poor coordination or inappropriate playing behaviour (eg. standing out of position)
-clutching or grabbing at head
-dazed or confused
-vomiting (>once is of greater concern-take to Emergency Department)
-irritability/changes in emotions

-“don’t feel right”
-blurred vision
-difficulty concentrating/remembering

If you (or your child) have an incident like this and have one or more of the following symptoms you should:
1) Be removed from sport immediately
2) Monitored by an adult
3) Seek Medical Attention from your GP or Concussion Trained Physiotherapist (Click here for our team)

A full list of symptoms can be found HERE– the Concussion Recognition Tool is a great resource for parents & coaches

Assessment and Treatment of Concussion:
A concussion must be diagnosed by a health professional. Examination from your Physiotherapist will include a group of tests as required including; SCAT5 or SCAT5 Child Assessment (Symptoms, Neurocognitive processing, Balance), Assessment of neck pain and movements, Neurological Exam, and Eye & Head Movements.
Treatment of each concussion is individual- REST IS NOT BEST!!
Your Physiotherapist will work with you on starting appropriate activities EARLY to aide a gradual return to daily activities (highly supported by research), followed by return to work/school and then return to sport. Your treatment plan may include; education about pacing activities, treatment of the neck joints and muscles, relearning eye tracking movements and gradual exercise progressing back to full function including work and sport specific tasks.

Key Points:
-90% of concussions occur without being knocked out
-If you suspect a concussion, remove the athlete from play IMMEDIATELY
-Seek Medical Assessment from someone trained in Concussion
-Rehabilitation is INDIVIDUALISED
If you have had a concussion, Bureta Physiotherapy will work with you, your family and your doctor to take you through the required steps for full return to function-including sport, school or work.
Early Diagnosis is important for monitoring symptoms and guiding appropriate rehabilitation, contact us TODAY to book an appointment or discuss if our acute concussion service is right for you.



The silent epidemic – Concussion – It’s a brain injury!

Concussion is a hot topic in the media at present. There was a news article on seven sharp last night that shows one mans crusade against this silent epidemic. It is a condition that is suffered at all levels of sport from grass roots to professional levels but unfortunately at many levels it is not managed well. This results in serious long term consequences for the athlete which shouldn’t occur if managed correctly.
Fortunately there is a gold standard as to how people with a concussion should be managed and if a person has suffered a concussion that is not resolving, they can be referred to the appropriate services within the ACC system in New Zealand. For this to happen, it must be diagnosed early and monitored appropriately.

The SCAT3 takes people through the appropriate steps in the process of returning a player back to sport but can also be adapted for children to return to school and workers to return to work. Everyone who has had a concussion should be medically cleared by an appropriate health clinician.

Bureta Physiotherapy will work with your doctor to take you through the necessary steps so that your doctor can clear you for sport, school or work. There is a current initiative with Sport BOP to get this message out into the community, which involves players, coaches, parents to come on board.

Concussion is a brain injury! and must be treated with respect.

If you have suffered a concussion contact us for correct baseline testing and to be given the gold standard steps to ensure you are healthy to return to sport, school or work.

If you have had a knock to the head and you have one or some of these symptoms – it is advised that you seek medical attention from GP, or concussion trained Physiotherapist


Unbalanced, dizzy
Visual disturbance
Irritable, emotional changes
De ja vu

Loss of consciousness, impaired consciousness
Poor co-ordination/balance
Convulsion or impact seizure
Unsteady gait/balance
Slow answer questions, directions
Distractable, poor concentration
Inappropriate emotions
Vomiting (more than 2 x then caution)
Vacant glassy stare
Slurred speech
Personality changes
Inappropriate playing behaviour
Decreased playing ability/affected reaction times