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Managing Sensitivity to Light and Noise After a Concussion

Sensitivity to light (photophobia) and noise (phonophobia) are common symptoms following a concussion, making everyday environments challenging and uncomfortable for those affected. At Revivo, our Toronto-based physiotherapy and neurology clinic, we understand the impact these sensitivities can have on recovery and daily life. This post offers practical strategies for managing light and noise sensitivity after a concussion, supporting patients in navigating their environments more comfortably.

Understanding Light and Noise Sensitivity Post-Concussion

After a concussion, the brain can become more sensitive to stimuli, leading to discomfort or pain in response to levels of light and noise that were previously tolerable. These sensitivities can significantly affect a person’s ability to participate in normal activities, including work, school, and social events.

Strategies for Managing Light Sensitivity

1. Gradual Exposure: Slowly increase exposure to natural light, starting with brief periods and gradually extending them as tolerated. This can help the brain adjust to light over time.

2. Use of Sunglasses and Hats: When outdoors or in brightly lit areas, wearing sunglasses or a hat with a brim can help reduce the intensity of light reaching the eyes.

3. Adjust Indoor Lighting: Opt for softer, dimmer lighting options at home and in the workplace. LED bulbs with adjustable brightness settings can be particularly useful.

4. Screen Time Modifications: Reduce screen brightness and use blue light filters on computers, smartphones, and tablets to decrease visual strain.

5. Eye Rest: Regularly practicing the 20-20-20 rule (looking at something 20 feet away for 20 seconds every 20 minutes) can help minimize eye strain during tasks that require sustained focus.

Strategies for Managing Noise Sensitivity

1. Ear Protection: Using earplugs or noise-canceling headphones can help control exposure to loud or sudden noises when in potentially noisy environments.

2. Create a Quiet Space: Designate a quiet, comfortable space in your home where you can retreat to avoid noise when needed.

3. White Noise Machines: Utilizing white noise machines or apps can help mask background noise, creating a more consistent and soothing sound environment.

4. Gradual Exposure: Similar to light sensitivity, gradually increasing exposure to everyday sounds can help desensitize the auditory system over time. This should be done cautiously and within comfort levels.

5. Communicate Needs: Inform friends, family, and coworkers about your sensitivity to noise, requesting their cooperation to maintain a lower noise level when possible.

Additional Tips for Recovery

1. Rest and Recovery: Ensure you are getting adequate rest, as fatigue can exacerbate sensitivity to light and noise.

2. Stress Management: Practice stress-reduction techniques, such as deep breathing, meditation, or gentle yoga, as stress can worsen symptoms.

3. Professional Guidance: Consult with a healthcare professional experienced in concussion management for personalized strategies and to monitor your progress.

4. Cognitive Behavioral Therapy (CBT): For some individuals, CBT with a mental health professional can help manage the emotional responses and coping strategies related to sensory sensitivities.

Conclusion

Sensitivity to light and noise after a concussion can be challenging, but with the right strategies and support, individuals can manage these symptoms effectively. At Revivo, we are committed to providing our patients with comprehensive care, including guidance on handling light and noise sensitivity. By implementing these management techniques, patients can make significant strides in their recovery process and improve their quality of life post-concussion.

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