Concussions – Part 2 – Acute concussion management
In on-field acute concussion management, there are a few things that help improve outcomes long term that are easy to administer. If signs and symptoms are found on examination of a suspected concussion, these initial strategies can help improve outcomes and recovery times:
Early removal from play – longer on the field = worse outcomes (possibly linked to the next point)
Reduce body temperature – remove gear and sit in the shade
See a trained healthcare practitioner within 5 days (ideally within 48hrs)
Once you have seen your specialist trained concussion management healthcare professional, they will rule out any red flags and educate you on your condition as well as develop a plan for you moving forward.
Do I need to rest for a few weeks?
Contrary to previously held beliefs, you do not have to hibernate in a dark room for days or weeks until all of your symptoms are gone. In fact, we now know that this can actually make things worse and that it’s beneficial for you to start to expose yourself to mental and physical activity quite early in the rehabilitation process. The important note here is that returning to activity is guided by your symptoms, with progression through the rehab stages happening at their own pace – no two concussions are the same.
The basic outline of the steps can be seen on the schematic below:
Can I drive?
It is strongly recommended that you don’t drive for at least 48 hours after your concussion.
What happens if I don’t play sport, does the above plan still apply to me?
Yes, absolutely! Although you may not have suffered your concussion from sport, your full recovery is still important; however, those that don’t have to return to sport or a certain activity level don’t have to progress through all the stages. If you are able to complete your day to day activities without symptoms and you aren’t a high risk of suffering another impact, then your rehabilitation ends after successful completion of stage 5.
This is a very general overview of the steps involved in the acute management of concussions. We are an accredited Complete Concussion Management clinic, which is the leading edge in evidence based concussion management. If you have suffered a concussion and need an assessment and plan, book an appointment with one of our accredited physiotherapists.
The last part of our concussion series will cover Persistent Concussion Symptoms (PCS) and some of the questions surrounding this issue (including CTE), as well as discussing the differences in rehabilitation between an acute concussion and PCS.