Concussions are common injuries in contact sports, but can be suffered from any kind of collision that either involves an impact to the head or jostles you around. The science of concussions and head injuries has evolved significantly over the last 15 years or so. While we still don’t know anywhere near everything there is to know about the human brain, we now at least are beginning to understand the long-term impacts concussions can have on it.
When you pay a visit to the doctor with a suspected concussion, the doctor will conduct an evaluation of all your signs and symptoms, review your complete medical history and then begin a neurological examination. There’s a chance concussion symptoms will not appear for hours or even days after your initial injury, so this doctor’s assessment is crucial to determining if you actually do have a concussion.
Tests commonly performed by doctors who suspect concussions after sports injuries in Brampton include:
- Neurological tests: These tests include evaluations of your hearing, vision, strength, balance, reflexes and coordination.
- Cognitive testing: The doctor will test your memory, concentration and ability to recall information.
- Imaging tests: If you have particularly extreme symptoms, such as severe headaches, vomiting, seizures or other worsening symptoms, the doctor may use brain imaging to determine the severity of the injury and if there is bleeding or swelling in the skull. These tests can include CT or MRI scans.
- Observation: The doctor may choose to keep you overnight in the hospital to conduct a more thorough evaluation if you suffer a concussion. There’s also a chance you could be placed under home evaluation for at least 24 hours.
Treating the concussion
Once the doctor has diagnosed you with a concussion, you will begin treatment. The best way to treat a concussion is to simply get some rest—your brain needs time to recover from the bruising it suffered. Your doctor will recommend you restrict physical exertion, avoid involvement in sports or anything requiring vigorous movement, and generally give yourself some mental rest until your symptoms go away.
You will need to limit screen time as well, so your doctor will encourage you to avoid playing too many video games, watching TV, reading from e-readers or looking at your smartphone for too long. Your doctor might also recommend you shorten your work days or school days, and to take more breaks throughout the day to give your brain and your mind the rest it needs.
Your doctor will let you know when it is safe for you to get back to your regular physical activities and other routines. Often, there is a transition period in which you will do some light physical activity before getting back into your normal exercise and sports routines.
Some symptoms can be alleviated with medications. Pain relievers like acetaminophen are commonly used for headaches, but medications such as ibuprofen and aspirin should be avoided, as they could increase the risk of bleeding.
For more information about what to expect after a concussion, contact a physical therapist specializing in rehab of sports injuries in Brampton.