Concussion and Whiplash – The Importance of Treating The Neck

A violent shock or heavy blow to the body or head can result in a concussion or whiplash. Both very commonly result in a cervical (neck) injury. Neck injuries can cause inflammation as well as changes to the joints and nerves.

Sometimes it can be hard to differentiate a neck injury from a concussion as they can occur at the same time and can have overlapping symptoms…see the table below.



A physiotherapy assessment after any head or neck injury has been shown to be vital. The initial visit will help to rule out a serious injury and can help decide if a specialist referral is needed.

Our assessment includes asking a number of questions related to how the injury happened.  We get you to score certain symptoms and occasionally do some memory and recall tests.  We then have a variety of tests which look at the eye control, balance, co-ordination, neck movements and alignment. We check how well you can turn your head and how easily each of the joints can move.

Here at Back in Action Physio we do some hands on treatment and then give exercises to help manage symptoms, strengthen your neck and improve your balance which can vary from patient to patient.

In New Zealand there has previously been a lack of referral for manual physiotherapy treatment for people who have received a concussion or a neck injury. New evidence strongly supports the role of Physiotherapy in managing head and neck injuries which can speed up recovery and ensure it is safe to return to daily exercise and the sports you love.

At Back in Action Physio, we love to help with head and neck injuries; not only for our contact sport teams but also any accidents that can happen at home. We are really lucky to work with The Vertigo Clinic and ACC concussion specialists, when we need some help with managing your injury.

If you are concerned about a head or neck injury, please get in touch and see how we can help you.  For more information on Concussion check out this blog .


Cheever, Kelly & Kawata, Keisuke & Tierney, Ryan & Galgon, Anne. (2016). Cervical Injury Assessments for Concussion Evaluation: A Review. Journal of Athletic Training. 51. 10.4085/1062-6050-51.12.15.