Concussion Management

Concussions typically result in the rapid onset of short-lived impairment of neurological function that resolves spontaneously. However, in some cases, signs and symptoms may evolve over a number of minutes to hours. The following are common symptoms of concussion:

  • Headache
  • Drowsiness (fatigue, forgetful or feels “foggy”)
  • Appears dazed, stunned or confused
  • Nausea/Vomiting
  • Difficulty concentrating/focusing
  • Shows imbalance/Moves clumsily
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Blurred vision/Double vision
  • Tinnitus (ringing in the ear)
  • Answers questions slowly/Slurred speech

It is OK to:

  • Go to sleep, rest
  • Use an ice pack on head/neck for comfort
  • Eat a light diet, hydrate

Do not:

  • Drive
  • Drink alcohol
  • Exercise, participate in strenuous activity
  • Take ibuprofen, aspirin or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory
  • Use electronic devices such as cell phones

If someone suspects that a concussion has occurred, the injured person should stop the activity or sport immediately and be taken to the emergency room or to a physician to assess for other injuries, like a skull fracture, neck injury or bleeding on the brain.

If an individual has sustained a concussion, immediate rest (no activity) is the first and most important step in recovery. A physician will need to determine if the individual can return to activity, school, work or athletics. The time from being symptom-free and resuming activity varies by individual and can be helped significantly through concussion management and rehabilitation.

The main treatment for a concussion is rest. Your doctor may tell you to take time off from work or school. Over time, the symptoms will go away as your brain heals.

In the first phase of concussion, the person should not take any pain medications. A pain medication can “mask” the symptoms, which could allow someone to return to activities with a concussion. After a concussion is diagnosed, acetaminophen can be used; however, it should not be given just to cover up headaches. Aleve and ibuprofen (NSAID-type medications) should not be used at first, as they may increase the risk of bleeding.