A concussion is an injury to the head that affects how the brain works. This can result from a hit to the head or a whiplash-type injury, for example. Recovering from a concussion can take time—weeks, and sometimes months.
A common misconception is that nothing can be done to treat a concussion, but we will help you manage your concussion with treatments that address your individual symptoms.
If you’re looking for guidance in managing the initial stage of a concussion, or if your symptoms don’t improve significantly after a week, it can help to consult with a concussion specialist to get back to the life you had before your concussion.
What it is
Concussion management can be very complex; it’s more than just keeping a patient safe from further injury while the brain goes through its healing process. Management is proactive, which means trying to find out how the concussion is affecting each individual patient, so he or she can get back to the life they knew before the concussion.
With a student athlete, for example, the return-to-play decision is important. But we understand that “return-to-learn” and “return-to-life” decisions are just as meaningful and essential.
Good for treating
If you had a concussion and are experiencing lasting effects, it can be frustrating to have people think that you "look normal" when you want nothing more than to "feel normal" again.
In concussion management, the focus is on six key areas:
- Cognitive/fatigue (mental processes)
- Vestibular (balance/dizziness)
- Ocular (vision)
- Post-traumatic migraine
What to expect
At the initial clinic visit, your provider can often determine the target areas of concern. Together, you’ll design an action plan specific to you. The plan may include an outline of school accommodations, or referrals to other specialists such as a vestibular therapist to help you with dizziness/imbalance, a neuro-optometrist for vision problems, a chiropractor or neurologist. In some cases, medication may be needed.
The thing to remember is, the earlier you see a concussion management specialist after a concussion, the more he or she can positively influence your recovery.
Good to know
Many athletes choose to undergo ImPACT testing prior to participating in sports. ImPACT is a 20-minute test that has become a standard tool used in the clinical management of concussions. Memory, impulse control and reaction time are measured.
If an athlete has a suspected concussion, ImPACT offers an accurate assessment of brain recovery, enabling a better and safer decision as to when an athlete can return to play. Optimally, after an injury, a post-injury test can be compared to a baseline test taken by the same individual prior to the beginning of the sports season. If there is no baseline, the post-injury results may be compared to national norms.
An ImPACT baseline test doesn’t reduce the chances of getting a concussion, but it can help assess injury in the event of a future concussion.
Reviewed by: G. Budd Renier, MD; Robby Bershow, MD; Brent Millikin, ATD, MEd
First published: 4/26/2018
Last reviewed: 4/26/2018