Concussion Treatment Guelph | Health & Performance Centre

Concussions - HPC Physiotherapy Guelph

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The Health Performance Centre (HPC) concussion team includes on-site Sport Medicine Doctors who will conduct a thorough medical examination and recommend necessary treatment. They work collaboratively with the HPC team to ensure an athlete meets their goals and will include referrals for physiotherapy, chiropractic, massage therapy, and/or naturopathic medicine.

For more information regarding the characteristics of a good concussion clinic, please reference this document from the Canadian Concussion Collaborative


Concussion Signs, Symptoms and Diagnosis 

Concussions are now readily labelled as a type of brain injury. Concussions reduce brain activity which can result in many symptoms. Following a concussion, the brain remains in a vulnerable state where another insult can negatively impact long term. Most concussions resolve in 1-2 weeks and do not result in long term deficits – if treated appropriately.

The diagnosis or suspicion of a concussion can build anxiety that extends beyond the injured individual. There is often a feeling of helplessness and a sense of non-direction. An athlete’s emotions can range from a “want” to be back in the game, to anxiety and stress over wondering what life may look like without sport or being able to catch up at school. An adult who is suffering from a concussion can experience the same fears and anxiety over their sport or academic life, but the stress is often compounded by responsibilities around work and parenting.

You may be interested in these 'Concussion-related Articles' → Vestibular Impacts of a Concussion / Concussion: Visual/Oculomotor / What is a Concussion? / All About Whiplash 

What causes concussions?

Concussions can result from either a direct impact to the head or indirect force to the head such as a fall which jolts the neck and creates a “whiplash” force that moves the brain within the skull (Cervicogenic Subset).

A concussion incident from a direct impact to the head is easier to recognize. In sport this could be a fall, a baseball to a mask or a body check/contact to the head (heading in soccer). But events that involve a black eye and/or teeth displacement are often missed as direct blows to the head. In life, direct blows also can come from events like falls or hitting your head on your trunk/car door.

Neck (Cervicogenic Subset) concussions are a type of concussion where structures in the neck contribute to concussion symptoms. It is caused by a direct or indirect hit to the neck or another part of the body that causes the brain to move inside the skull. Learn more about Cervicogenic (Neck) Subset concussions here. 

What are the Signs and Symptoms of Concussions? 

Concussion symptoms can involve the body, cognition, emotions, and sleep and may include any listed below. 

Body-related symptoms: 

  • Dizziness 
  • Headache/“Pressure in head”
  • Neck pain 
  • Trouble balancing 
  • Sensitivity to light or noise 
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Balance problems

Cognitive symptoms:  

  • Confusion ("Don’t feel right")
  • Fatigue (Feeling slowed down or "in a fog")
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering

Emotional symptoms: 

  • Irritable 
  • Nervous 
  • Anxious 
  • Sad 

Sleep-related symptoms: 

  • Difficulty falling asleep 
  • Trouble staying asleep  
  • Sleeping too much 

Concussion Treatments and Recovery Options: 

Always look for a medical professional to assess any symptoms after a possible concussive incident through baseline testing (details below). HPC’s unique process assesses individuals to determine what symptoms are contributing to their possible concussion. Research outlines that those individuals that seek out physiotherapy to assess and treat the various systems in their body that contribute to these concussion symptoms return to school/work and sport earlier compared to patients that just “rest”.

The HPC team is uniquely trained to assess the body systems that can contribute to concussion symptoms such as neck or cervical spine complaints, headaches, dizziness, balance deficits and some visual complaints. Our team will also connect athletes with community resources and help develop a personalized, comprehensive plan that may also include Occupational Therapy, Vision Therapy and Sport Psychology.

The Health and Performance Centre is your one-stop concussion centre for an evidence-based approach to care.

Our physiotherapists use their advanced manual therapy skills to treat symptoms coming from the neck and vestibular system. When appropriate we use balance and vision training exercises. Finally, we adhere to a rigorous cardiovascular conditioning and sport-specific protocol prior to making recommendations to return to sport.

Our physiotherapists advocate for patients and their support teams. We make ourselves available for the many questions and communicate with doctors; coaches/trainers, and employers. Concussion recovery varies among patients. Research clearly shows that concussions in patients under the age of 18 can often take longer to recover. Most concussion patients are cleared to return to school/work and sports within 2 weeks, but those with more severe symptoms may be in treatment longer. Our team uses a checklist program to monitor your progress and establish clear targets for a successful return specific to your individual needs. 

HPC Concussion-related services:

(*covered by most insurance plans)


Concussion Prevention:

The strength behind concussion prevention often relies on adhering to rules to avoid unnecessary and inappropriate head and body contact. While wearing safety equipment can reduce other injuries, no specific helmet or mouth guard has been shown to reduce concussive symptoms to date.


Concussion Baseline Testing:

Many youths and professional sporting organizations are opting in to concussion baseline testing. Canadian research does identify several risk factors that can predispose athletes to concussions.

Concussion baseline testing occurs before the athlete’s season begins. In addition to being aware of players at higher risk, baseline testing gives athletes the opportunity to have many body systems that can be injured by a concussion assessed when they are in a healthy state.

This baseline information gives medical professionals a comparative advantage when assessing athletes that have suffered a concussion. HPC has adopted an extensive Concussion Baseline Testing Program which is available to individuals and sporting organizations. Our baseline testing includes a detailed assessment by a Registered Physiotherapist to include:

  • Medical history looking for high-risk factors
  • neck movement & strength
  • VOMS- Visual Ocular System
  • Balance, cognition, and memory testing through the administration of the SCAT5
  • ongoing communication with your doctor, parents, and athletes

Our experience has demonstrated that many athletes have “normal” positive findings in their healthy baseline state. Without the opportunity to have evaluated the athletes prior to an injury, these “normal positive findings” could be misinterpreted for positive concussion findings post-injury and could lead to poor recommendations with the return to school, work or sport.

Your physiotherapist will share any relevant findings, with permission, to coaches and your additional health care providers.

Youth Minor Sports Organization Support: 

The University of Guelph’s Health and Performance Centre are here to support our community athletes. We welcome the opportunity to help ensure that your organization is meeting Rowan's Law.
Our physiotherapists are available for both in-person and ZOOM educational seminars with your executive, coaches, athletes, and parents. To book an educational seminar, please email hpc@uoguelph.ca.

Rowan's Law Resources for Concussion Awareness resources: