Concussion is a mild type of brain injury, but it should be taken seriously.
A concussion occurs when a hit or jolt to the head or body causes the brain to bounce around inside the skull. These movements can damage brain cells and cause chemical changes within the brain.
Most people recover fully from a concussion, but the process can take weeks or sometimes months. Initially, patients must rest to allow their brain to heal, then gradually return to normal activities.
Up to 3.8 million concussions occur nationally each year from sports or recreation alone, according to government estimates.
People who’ve had a concussion are more vulnerable to future concussions, and it’s especially important to avoid another head injury while recovering from one. Athletes, for instance, should be removed from play immediately if a concussion is suspected.
Prevention is the best way to reduce the likelihood of a concussion – from wearing athletic helmets and following sportsmanship rules, to removing tripping hazards in the home.
Seek medical care promptly if you notice any symptoms of concussion after a recent blow or jolt to the head or body. After, follow-up with your doctor every one to two weeks until your symptoms are gone.
Most people with a concussion feel better within four to five weeks. In some cases, however, symptoms can continue for several months or longer. This condition, known as post-concussion syndrome, is rare after a first concussion, but more common after repeated concussions. Moreover, patients can develop emotional issues, such as anxiety or depression, that interfere with their recovery. It’s vital that patients receive proper evaluation and treatment of their symptoms and related problems.
Your health care provider will ask about your injury and examine you. You may also receive the following tests:
The following evaluations can help identify problems so they may be addressed through treatment.
In most cases, patients should stay home and rest for two or three days after a concussion, then gradually increase their activity level over the next few weeks. Certain symptoms — such as dizziness, vision problems, and headache — may require a longer rest period.
Your doctor can advise you on the right pace for your return to normal activities, including work and/or school. In fact, either too much rest or too much activity can delay your recovery, so it’s important to strike the proper balance between the two. Patients should continue seeing their physician every week or two until their symptoms subside, or until their doctor instructs them otherwise.
Physical therapy and/or psychological counseling can also help reduce or eliminate symptoms – and are especially important when a concussion’s effects linger. These treatments are even more effective when they are coordinated so they reinforce each other.
Physical therapy can treat the following concussion-related issues:
Psychological counselling can address continued pain, fatigue, visual symptoms and dizziness by teaching coping skills and relaxation techniques. A type of counselling called cognitive behavioral therapy is particularly effective in reducing these symptoms and their effects on patients’ lives. Counselling can also treat the emotional effects of concussion, which can include lowered self-confidence, anxiety, depression and other mood symptoms, as well as psychological trauma from the incident. And it can help patients achieve healthy levels of sleep, nutrition, and socialization – which can reduce concussion symptoms.
Certain medications can treat migraine headaches triggered by the concussion. Medication can also help treat mood symptoms, such as anxiety or depression.
Programs are available to address other challenges that may arise, such as job loss. Vocational programs, for instance, can help people return to work and other activities.
The risk for a second concussion is greatest in the 10 days after an initial concussion. Therefore, it’s especially important for anyone suspected of having a concussion to immediately stop their activity – especially if they’re playing a sport.
The person may not be thinking clearly, and may therefore not be able to make this decision on their own. Furthermore, their reaction time and balance may be affected, making them more prone to further injury.
To make a referral or to schedule an appointment call 844-234-8387.