Concussions are among the most common head injuries, typically caused by sudden impact that jars the brain within the skull. It’s important to understand the six stages of concussion recovery to properly manage the symptoms and get back to normal life. In this article, we’ll take a closer look at what concussions are, the common causes, and the symptoms to identify their effects early, to better manage the recovery process.
Concussions are a serious issue that can affect anyone, regardless of age or gender. It is important to understand what a concussion is and how it can impact your life.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that can occur from a blow or jolt to the head, causing the brain to move around or twist inside the skull. This can result in damage to brain cells and changes in brain function. While concussions are considered mild TBI, they can still have serious consequences if not properly diagnosed and treated.
It is important to note that you do not have to lose consciousness to have a concussion. In fact, most people who experience a concussion do not lose consciousness.
Common Causes of Concussions
Concussions can result from a variety of situations, including falls, car accidents, sports-related incidents, and physical altercations. A concussion may also occur if an individual experiences a sudden jolt or shaking of the head and body.
Sports-related concussions are a particular concern, especially in contact sports such as football, soccer, and hockey. Athletes who participate in these sports are at a higher risk of sustaining a concussion, and it is important for coaches, parents, and athletes to be aware of the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
Symptoms of a Concussion
The symptoms of a concussion can vary from mild to severe and may include confusion, headache, dizziness, blurred vision, memory loss, sensitivity to light or sound, and nausea. In some cases, symptoms may develop immediately, while in others, they may take hours to appear.
If you or someone you know has experienced a blow to the head or body and is experiencing any of these symptoms, it is important to seek medical attention immediately. A healthcare professional can properly diagnose a concussion and provide appropriate treatment.
It is also important to note that symptoms of a concussion can last for days, weeks, or even months after the initial injury. It is important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions for recovery and return to activities.
Stage 1: Immediate Post-Concussion
Recognizing the Signs
The immediate post-concussion stage follows the injury and lasts for the first 24-72 hours. During this time, it’s important to monitor the individual for symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, irritability, and sensitivity to light or sound. These symptoms can vary in severity and may not appear immediately after the injury. Some individuals may experience a loss of consciousness, while others may not.
It’s important to note that a concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) and should be taken seriously. Even a mild concussion can have lasting effects if not properly treated.
Seeking Medical Attention
If you experience any of these symptoms, it’s important to seek medical attention right away. A healthcare provider will perform tests to evaluate your neurological function and ensure that no further damage has occurred. They may also ask you questions about the injury, such as how it occurred and if you lost consciousness.
It’s important to be honest with your healthcare provider about your symptoms and any details surrounding the injury. This will help them determine the best course of treatment for you.
Initial Treatment and Rest
The first stage of recovery after a concussion involves rest and minimizing strenuous activities that could exacerbate symptoms. A healthcare provider may recommend limiting screen time and avoiding activities that require a great deal of mental or physical effort. This may include taking time off work or school to allow your brain to heal.
It’s important to follow your healthcare provider’s instructions and avoid any activities that could prolong your recovery time. This may include avoiding alcohol and certain medications that can interfere with the healing process.
During this time, it’s also important to monitor your symptoms and report any changes to your healthcare provider. They may adjust your treatment plan accordingly.
Stage 2: Early Recovery
During the early recovery phase (2-7 days after injury), the focus shifts to managing symptoms. This may include taking medication to relieve headaches and getting adequate sleep. However, it is important to note that medication should only be taken under the guidance of a healthcare provider, as some types of medication may have adverse effects on the body.
Furthermore, adequate sleep is crucial for the body to heal and recover. It is recommended to establish a consistent sleep schedule and create a relaxing sleep environment to promote restful sleep.
In addition to medication and sleep, a healthcare provider may also recommend neck or shoulder adjustments to relieve strain on affected muscles and joints. These adjustments may be done by a chiropractor or physical therapist and can help to alleviate pain and improve range of motion.
Gradual Return to Activities
As symptoms begin to subside, a healthcare provider may recommend a gradual return to activities, including low-impact exercise and light physical activity. This incremental approach can help to manage symptoms and speed up recovery time.
It is important to note that the pace of returning to activities should be determined by the individual’s symptoms and progress and should not be rushed. Pushing too hard too soon can lead to setbacks and prolong the recovery process.
Cognitive and Physical Therapy
Cognitive and physical therapy may also be recommended during this stage to help the individual retrain the brain and improve mobility and balance. Cognitive therapy can help with memory and concentration, while physical therapy can help to strengthen muscles and improve coordination.
It is important to attend therapy sessions regularly and actively participate in exercises and activities recommended by the therapist. Consistency and effort are key to achieving progress and reaching recovery goals.
Stage 3: Mid Recovery
Ongoing Treatment and Rehabilitation
The mid-recovery stage (2-3 weeks post-injury) typically involves continuing treatment and rehabilitation to maintain and improve gains made during the early recovery period. A healthcare provider may recommend ongoing physical therapy and cognitive exercises to retrain the brain and improve balance. It is important to follow the recommended treatment plan to ensure a successful recovery. Consistency is key, and missing appointments or exercises can delay progress.
In addition to physical therapy, some healthcare providers may recommend alternative therapies such as acupuncture or massage to aid in the recovery process. These therapies can help reduce stress and promote relaxation, which can be beneficial for those experiencing emotional changes as a result of the injury.
Coping with Emotional Changes
Additionally, people recovering from a concussion may have to cope with emotional changes such as irritability, anxiety, and depression. It’s important to discuss any such changes with your healthcare provider to be directed toward appropriate resources for support. This can include therapy or counseling to help individuals process their emotions and develop coping strategies.
It is also important for friends and family to be understanding and supportive during this time. Recovery from a concussion can be a long and frustrating process, and having a strong support system can make a significant difference.
Adjusting to Daily Life
As recovery progresses, individuals can gradually ease back into their usual routines and activities, according to medical guidance. This often involves making accommodations or adjustments to ensure that they are given appropriate time to rest and recover. It is important to listen to your body and not push yourself too hard too soon. Overexertion can lead to setbacks in the recovery process.
It is also important to make any necessary accommodations in the workplace or at school to ensure a successful recovery. This can include taking breaks throughout the day to rest or reducing workload temporarily. Open communication with employers or teachers can help facilitate these accommodations.
Overall, the mid-recovery stage is a crucial time in the concussion recovery process. Continuing treatment and rehabilitation, coping with emotional changes, and adjusting to daily life all play a role in achieving a successful recovery.
Concussions and their symptoms can vary from person to person, making each recovery unique. Careful monitoring of symptoms, seeking medical attention, rest, and gradual return to normal activities are all crucial stages of concussion recovery. Together with the right treatment, care, and management, recovery can be successful, and affected individuals can return to their daily routines.
At Brain Therapy TMS in San Diego, we’re committed to helping you navigate your mental health journey, and we’re here for you every step of the way. If you have any questions about our services or appointments, or if you simply wish to learn more about transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) therapy, please feel free to get in touch with us.
Your well-being is our priority, and we look forward to assisting you.