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Should I Exercise After a Concussion?

Updated: May 10, 2022

By: Dr. Elizabeth Braley, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, ACSM-EP

The short answer?

After 48 hours of physical and cognitive rest, YES!

The long answer:

Some people have persistent symptoms after a concussion. When concussion symptoms linger then a gradual return to exercise is important. Initially you can start walking or using a stationary bike at an intensity and duration that does not increase your symptoms. As your body adjusts the intensity and length of the exercise can be increased. If you continue to experience symptoms you should seek out care from a physical therapist with concussion experience. There is research that suggests limiting your activity completely will slow your rehabilitation. Concussions are treatable and it is possible to return to life without symptoms.

What type of exercise should I do?

A physical therapist can help identify the type of symptoms you are having and recommend specific exercises or activity modification to address the persistent symptoms. Therapists may prescribe:

  • Exertion exercise- helps desensitize the body to physical activity, improves sleep and mood

  • Vestibular exercise- to address dizziness and feeling off balance

  • Balance exercises- to help with your balance and prevent future injury

A study found that patients were more likely to have an acute lower body injury after a concussion. They hypothesized that many patients did not regain their prior balance abilities after a concussion. Fully rehabilitating can prevent other injuries.

  • Visual exercises- for eye symptoms

  • Neck and upper back exercises- Neck exercises can help with neck pain and headaches. Also, stronger neck muscles have been found to lower frequency and severity of concussions in athletes.

Each concussion is different, and it is important to be doing an exercise program that is specific to your needs. Some symptoms respond to treatments (manual therapy, massage, laser therapy) as well. If you have a history of mental health problems, you may also need to consider talking to a mental health therapist because concussions often exacerbate depression and anxiety.

If you need help with your rehabilitation after a concussion, reach out to our Physical Therapists here at The Green Room! You may request a free phone or in-person consultation here

In good health,

By: Elizabeth Braley, PT, DPT, OCS, CSCS, ACSM-EP at The Green Room PT

Clifton Park & Troy

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