What to do after a concussion
It can be hard to manage an injury you cannot see. With proper management, a concussion will cause temporary symptoms and you can expect a full recovery. However, when mismanaged, concussions can cause long-term symptoms and impact mental health.
Recent research suggests the majority of concussion symptoms will resolve within a month of injury. However, 10 to 30 percent of concussed individuals have symptoms lasting more than six weeks. (If you or your loved one falls into that category, make sure to review our Post Concussion Syndrome Resources.)
The immediate response to a possible concussion plays an important role in your recovery. To best manage concussions, the Concussion Legacy Foundation recommends the steps outlined in this easy-to-read guide and detailed below.
1. Remove yourself from activities that could cause head trauma, stress your heart or strain your brain.
Resting immediately after concussion gives you the best chance of making a speedy recovery. Resting means not exerting yourself physically or cognitively, and ensuring you are safe from subsequent head impacts that could cause a second injury or in extremely rare cases, even Second Impact Syndrome. Resting means taking a day or two off of work or school.
For athletes, if you feel concussion symptoms during a game or practice after an impact, immediately stop participating. In addition, if a parent, coach, teammate, referee, or medical professional observing the athlete recognizes concussion signs after an impact, immediate removal from play is critical. A 2018 University of Florida study found that college athletes who stopped activity once they were injured missed three fewer days of competition than those who delayed reporting. Additionally, immediate removal from activity reduced concussion symptoms by about two days and decreased the likelihood of missing more than two weeks of participation by 39 percent.
Learn more from CLF medical director Dr. Robert Cantu about why the brain needs rest immediately after it has been injured:
4. Monitor your symptoms carefully.
Take note of any symptoms you experience, when you experience them, and how severe they are. Are they consistent? Do they get worse in certain situations? All of this information will be helpful when you talk with your doctor.
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