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Concussion Testing in New Jersey

Trauma and injury to your head may result in a concussion that causes a variety of symptoms. With two convenient locations in New Jersey, Performance Rehabilitation offers diagnostic and treatment services for those living in Totowa, Lafayette Township and the surrounding communities.

What is a Concussion?

Concussions are among the most common types of sports injuries, and they’re usually experienced by athletes who participate in contact sports. For this reason, physiotherapists evaluate, diagnose and treat this condition regularly. Concussions have the potential to be life threatening, so proper evidence-based evaluation and treatment is essential.

On average, roughly 10% of high school athletes are at risk of sustaining a concussion during contact and collision sports. Meanwhile, approximately 15% to 20% of football players are at risk of sustaining a concussion. Like many sports injuries, most athletes will recover from a concussion fairly quickly, often in just two to three weeks, but occasionally longer.

While there is no universal definition, a concussion is typically characterized by the following criteria:

  • A direct impact to the neck, face or head, or an indirect impact on a different area of the body that transfers to the head.
  • Transient (coming and going) symptoms.
  • Neuropathic changes that are associated only with functional disruptions. They have not caused changes in structure.

The patient may or may not lose consciousness following the incident. Neurological imaging scans, such as x-rays and MRI or CT scans, often come back normal.

What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?

Symptoms of a concussion can include:

  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Headaches
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Dizziness

Athletes who are suspected of having a head injury should be closely monitored for a short time to see whether their signs or symptoms become worse. Some patients may not experience symptoms immediately, as signs are often delayed or fail to appear for hours or even days following the injury.

Acute Hallmark Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion

  • Traumatic or repetitive impacts to the head
  • Headaches
  • Feeling disoriented or confused
  • An abnormal or unsteady gait (walk)
  • Dizziness
  • Disturbances in vision
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Loss of memories surrounding the event
  • Delays in responding to questions

How is a Concussion Diagnosed?

Because concussions can present themselves differently in each person, it’s important to understand how the injury occurred if an accurate diagnosis is to be made. Conventional imaging tests, such as CT and MRI scans, will not show whether a person has a concussion. They help to identify fracture and bleeding and are essential tests. But they do not identify a concussion nor can they monitor improvement from a concussion. Most typically seen is having the concussed patient perform cognitive testing (Impact Testing) to monitor cognitive functioning and improvement. The neurologist will also follow the patient and monitor vital signs and symptom persistence or elimination. But there is more to monitor for recovery that is necessary and missing with most concussion baseline screenings and treatment. That is the neurophysical testing that can identify balance and postural sway deficits indicative of a not fully resolved concussion. At Performance Rehabilitation, our team utilizes the Equilibrate Balance system to measure baseline balance in the athlete that is matched for age and sex. The system utilizes digital cameras, force plates, motion capture technology to produce an algorithmic and quantifiable measure of balance. This is one of the best measures that we have to identify healing following a concussion. This is essential, especially in young athletes where the brain is still developing (up to the age of 23) as the risk of Second Impact Syndrome places these athletes at risk of death if another concussion is experienced before full healing is allowed to occur. This very simple test is effective in saving the athlete from himself, as there is no way to cheat the test. It also takes away some of the subjective nature of the physical exam and provides critical information to the neurologist in clearing the athlete for return to play. Our physical therapists also utilize the Equilibrate system for biofeedback treatment to help the athlete regain balance and postural sway control.

Athletes and other people who enjoy outdoor activities and sports are at risk for developing several conditions, such as tennis elbow, weightlifter’s shoulder, ITB syndrome, golfer’s elbow, runner’s knee and patella femoral syndrome. If you have symptoms of any of these conditions, contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our physical therapists at Performance Rehabilitation, located in Totowa and Lafayette Township in New Jersey.