A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury in which the brain moves abruptly inside the skull, such as from a blow to the head. Americans suffer up to 3 million sports-related concussions each year, but nearly 50% of these brain injuries go undetected and undiagnosed.
Although concussions are relatively common, they should never be taken lightly. Recognizing the signs of a concussion is crucial, and our team at A+ Athlete Sports Medicine in Neptune and Robbinsville, New Jersey, is here to help.
Because a concussion is a brain injury, the onset of new cognitive symptoms could be a telltale sign. If you suffer a blow to the head, you might notice symptoms like:
A concussion can also trigger a dazed feeling and lead to confusion about basic details, such as the time, date, or present location. These symptoms might appear immediately after your injury, or they might develop over a few days.
Along with cognitive symptoms, concussions can also cause physical symptoms, such as:
Physical concussion symptoms might start right away and get progressively worse in the hours and days after your head injury. In some cases, a concussion can cause trouble with balance and coordination, which might make even simple tasks challenging.
Finally, concussions can lead to mood swings, irritability, and increased levels of anxiety or depression. You might feel more emotional than usual and experience sudden bursts of anger or sadness without any apparent reason.
A concussion can affect your sleep, too. You may experience either insomnia or excessive sleeping. It's important to understand that these emotional and behavioral changes can be a direct result of the injury and not merely a reaction to the pain or discomfort.
If you think you might have a concussion, we can help. Our team at A+ Athlete Sports Medicine specializes in concussion treatment, and we can help you get the diagnosis and care you need to start healing.
Even if your injury seems mild, we can properly assess the situation and recommend appropriate treatment. Depending on your condition, we may recommend:
Rest is essential after a concussion. Physical and cognitive rest can let your brain heal without additional strain. In light of this, you should avoid activities that could worsen your symptoms, such as engaging in sports or mentally demanding tasks. We monitor your progress to track your recovery, and we can adjust your treatment plan as needed.
As your symptoms improve, we guide you through a gradual return to your daily activities. This step-by-step approach can help prevent setbacks and allow your brain to fully heal before you resume regular physical and cognitive demands.
If you have headaches or other physical symptoms, we may prescribe over-the-counter pain relievers, such as acetaminophen. Never take medication for a concussion without talking with your doctor, because using other common options for pain, such as aspirin and nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs), can increase your risk for bleeding.
In more severe cases, we might start you on a rehabilitation program after your concussion. Concussion rehab can include physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive therapy, or a combination, depending on your specific symptoms and needs.
It's important to avoid any additional head injuries while recovering from a concussion. Suffering a second impact before your brain has healed could lead to a dangerous condition known as “second impact syndrome,” which can cause severe and potentially fatal brain swelling.
Recognizing the telltale signs of a concussion is crucial for timely intervention and appropriate treatment. Cognitive symptoms, physical manifestations, and emotional changes are key indicators to watch for in anyone who has experienced a head injury or significant impact.
You should never ignore a suspected concussion. If you think you might have one, it’s important to get treatment, so you can get the necessary care. To get the help you need, book an appointment online or over the phone with A+ Athlete Sports Medicine today.