Concussion Guidelines – Part 2
In Part 1 of concussion guidelines blog entry, I briefly summarized the definition of a concussion and the signs & symptoms one may exhibit after getting a concussion. In today’s blog entry, I will briefly cover the management of concussion.
In the acute stages (1-2 week period after a concussion), literature has shown that the most important treatment is complete rest. This means no physical activity, limited use of the computer/laptop/smartphone to check e-mails and no reading. This allows the brain that has been “injured” to rest and heal. If your symptoms have not subsided and you decide to perform these activities – there is a good chance that your symptoms will get worse and the recovery period will take even longer. It is also important to stay away from alcohol/drugs and loud environments/venues. Ice or cold compress can be also be used in this stage to reduce swelling/pain.
Once the intensity of the symptoms have subsided drastically after the acute stage, there can be a graduated increase in the activities that I mentioned above but you must be CLEARED by a doctor before proceeding! Physical activity can start with a short, light walk outdoors in a quiet neighborhood or indoors on a stationary bike for 5-10 mins. From a cognitive standpoint, a good starting point would be reading a short article from a magazine/newspaper, a few pages from a book or doing very simple math problems to challenge the brain. While performing these tasks, it is very important to keep track of the time and to monitor for any symptom increase (ie. headaches, dizziness, etc.).
In the subacute stage, a graduated transition to activities of daily living such as going back to school, work or sport can take place on a part-time basis. The requirement being that the individual is able to sustain concentration for 30 minutes before significant symptom exacerbation or if symptoms subside quickly with cognitive rest breaks. This graduated protocol will continue until the individual doesn’t require any cognitive rest breaks and experiences no active symptoms.
The length of the recovery period from a concussion depends on multiple factors. The recovery period can vary from 7-10 days to 2-3 months. Those with a prolonged recovery usually have a past history of concussion, history of migraines, history of learning or behavioural problems, symptoms of amnesia/dizziness, or return to activity too quickly.
In Part 3, I will provide a brief overview of specific protocols for return to sport following a concussion – stay tuned!
For any additional questions and/or concerns, ask our friendly team of north Toronto therapists!
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