I’ve Had A Concussion: Now What Should I Do?

Written by:
Dr. Kelsy Rayl

Over the last several years concussions have been gaining more attention in the sports realm and media. While there is a lot of new information out in the ether about how to treat a concussion; unfortunately, there is also a lot of out-dated advice available. If you think you’ve sustained a concussion from a sports injury, car accident, fall around your home or some other way, you will benefit from physical therapy to address your injury and any concussion symptoms you may be experiencing.

Let’s address the most common questions I get regarding concussion. 

What is a concussion?

There are several definitions for concussion. The definition I find to be the most succinct is as follows: “Any structural or metabolic disturbance to the central nervous system or inner ear following an impact to the head or body.” [American Institute of Balance]

What symptoms are common following a concussion?

The symptoms following a concussion have a wide range and can vary significantly from person to person. Concussion symptoms can be grouped into four categories. See below to see if any of these symptoms resonate with you.


  • Physical: Headache, neck pain, sensitivity to light/noise, visual problems, dizziness, balance issues, nausea, vomiting
  • Cognitive: Memory issues, difficulty concentrating, confusion, feeling slowed down, feeling “in a fog,” trouble thinking clearly
  • Emotional: Anxiety, nervousness, depression, sadness, irritability, more emotional
  • Sleep: Fatigue, low energy, sleeping more/less, difficulty falling asleep


When should I start physical therapy after sustaining a concussion?

AS SOON AS POSSIBLE! Providing symptom relief and implementing healing strategies can be done immediately following a concussion. Research suggests starting treatment within 7 days of injury can reduce recovery time by a mean of 20 days when compared to starting care 2-3 weeks after injury. [Kontos et al., 2020 JAMA Neurology]

What can a physical therapist do to help me recover from a concussion?

TONS! The majority of concussions have associated whiplash and neck pain. Physical therapists are experts in treatment of musculoskeletal ailments. Additionally, a physical therapist who is certified in concussions is essential to your recovery. Treatment strategies for concussion recovery include: neuromuscular activation, proprioception work, visual processing, vestibular rehabilitation, strength training, balance training, and sensory integration.

Should I exercise while recovering from a concussion?

YES! Low intensity aerobic activity can promote recovery following concussion. It’s important to perform light activity in a way that doesn’t over exacerbate your symptoms. The Buffalo concussion Treadmill Test (BCTT) is an objective test that measures heart rate and exertion to guide exercise load and progression. Using the results from a BCTT allows for speedy, and safe recovery.

It’s been a long time since my concussion, can physical therapy still help me?

100%! Our brains are plastic and capable of healing and remodeling at any phase following injury. Progress can be made at any time, even if your injury was years ago.

I’ve had a concussion, how do I make an appointment to get started?

Click here to get started

At Activcore, you will receive a full hour of one-on-one attention. Our techniques and technology are engaging and effective. You’ll receive a treatment customized to help you achieve your goals in fewer visits. Together, we can help you reduce your symptoms, improve your balance, and restore your quality of life!

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Kelsy Rayl

Physical Therapist | Doctor of Physical Therapy
Kelsy Rayl is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) who specializes in vestibular rehabilitation, concussions, and general orthopedics. She works at Activcore in Castle Rock, CO which is located inside Optimal Health Chiropractic. While she enjoys helping all types of people achieve their activity and lifestyle goals, Kelsy particularly enjoys working with patients dealing with disorders that result in dizziness and patient’s recovering post-concussion. Kelsy is proud to be a part of her patient’s journey as they return to the core activities and daily abilities which make them feel like themselves.
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