It can be hard to manage an injury you cannot see. When mismanaged, concussions can have devastating consequences, but with proper management, athletes who suffer a concussion can expect a full recovery.
Recent research suggests the majority of concussion symptoms will resolve within two weeks of injury. However, it has also been found that 10 to 30 percent of concussed high school athletes suffer from 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.)
Your immediate response to a possible concussion plays an important role in your recovery. The Concussion Legacy Foundation recommends the steps below to help athletes, parents, and coaches manage concussions and get on the road to recovery.
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. Immediacy is critical - playing out the rest of a game, or even finishing the period, adds an average of five days to recovery time.
If you had any signs or symptoms of a concussion, you should assume it was a concussion until you have a chance to be evaluated by an appropriate medical professional. Even if you passed a sideline evaluation, no test is perfect and signs and symptoms can appear days after the impact. Use our Concussion Clinics search tool to schedule an appointment with a doctor. Be sure to also check out our 5 Tips for Choosing a Concussion Clinic.
The first step in every recovery plan is to rest your body and your brain. If it causes your symptoms to worsen, don’t do it. This means no strenuous exercise, avoiding screens like television, computers, and your phone, and getting enough sleep. It may also mean taking time off from school or work, or avoiding situations with loud noise, bright lights, or crowds. However, this doesn’t mean isolate yourself in a dark room for a week. Too much isolation and boredom can be harmful, contributing to feelings of anxiety, depression, and resulting in increased recovery time. Spend time with friends and family, but monitor your symptoms and avoid situations that make you feel worse.
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 this information will be helpful when you talk with your doctor.
Most people recover from a concussion within a few weeks. This is almost always a temporary problem that will get better if you manage it correctly.