I do see a fair number of patients who have dizziness after a concussion.
However, I do not specialize in mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury) or concussion rehab.
In this blog, I’ll talk more about dizziness after concussion and what might need to be addressed for a full recovery.
Spontaneous Recovery Occurs within Two Weeks
The most common complaint after sustaining a concussion is headaches. Dizziness is the second most common complaint after a concussion.
Dizziness and severe headaches started for me in first grade after sustaining a major concussion with loss of consciousness.
Dizziness after a concussion typically resolves on its own within two weeks.
In the past, when patients have contacted me with dizziness after a new concussion, I’ve advised them to consult with their primary care provider first. Sometimes, patients may need to seek emergency care after sustaining a concussion.
Pro Tip: If people with dizziness after concussion are going to have a spontaneous recovery, it typically occurs in the first two weeks after their injury.
Persistent dizziness after a concussion is due to a complex condition called “Post-concussion syndrome.”
These potentially debilitating but invisible symptoms can linger for weeks, months, or years after an injury.
Patients who suffer from this typically need a multidisciplinary team approach for a full recovery, especially if symptoms linger for more than two weeks after the initial injury.
Multiple Possible Root Causes of Dizziness After A Concussion
If a patient consults with me, I typically conduct an initial consultation and physical exam for root cause analysis. I treat any BPPV and make referrals for other specialized providers as needed.
The purpose of my analysis is to differentially diagnose any combination of the following:
- Post-traumatic BPPV
- Whiplash-associated dizziness (WAD)
- mTBI (mild traumatic brain injury)
- Headaches and migraines
- Dysautonomia (lightheadedness while upright or standing)
- Binocular visual dysfunction
- Psychological impacts, such as PTSD, irritability, emotional lability, anxiety, and depression
- Sleep disturbance
Patients with post-traumatic BPPV typically have crystals in multiple canals, which makes it more complicated.
This care is completed in about four to eight visits with me on average and can provide significant relief for patients with post-traumatic BPPV.
Multidisciplinary Team Approach
Then I usually refer out to a multidisciplinary network of providers who specialize in those various root causes of dizziness that present in post-concussive syndrome.
Depending on what I find in my exam, I build a multidisciplinary team to meet the patient’s other needs.
For Example: Orthopedic Care
As part of my comprehensive initial consultation and root cause analysis, I do assess all of my patients for a cervical component of their symptoms of dizziness after a concussion. My treatment interventions for that problem include instruction in self-care strategies, soft tissue mobilization on the neck and jaw, and patient education.
However, I do not specialize in hands-on treatment for cervical dizziness or vertigo. Instead, I refer my patients to another provider for orthopedic manual physical therapy for their head, neck, and jaw. That provider can address all orthopedic pain issues and any whiplash-associated dizziness as well.
After the pain has improved, the patient can work with the orthopedic provider or personal trainer on strength and conditioning, with return to sport as a long term goal.
This blog is provided for informational purposes only. The content and any comments by Dr. Kim Bell, DPT are not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition. The details of any case mentioned in this post represent a typical patient that Dr. Bell might see and do not describe the circumstances of a specific individual.