Frequently Asked Questions
Diagnosis, Treatment and Testing
How do I know if an athlete has had a concussion? A concussion occurs when a blow to the head causes the brain to rock back and forth inside the skull. The injury causes an alteration or change in brain function. Loss of consciousness, balance problems, feeling dazed, confused or foggy, and loss of memory are just a few of the symptoms that may be noticed or observed. Physical symptoms may include headache, nausea, blurred or double vision, or fatigue.
Does an athlete have to lose consciousness to sustain a concussion? No. In fact, in only about 10% of concussions will a person lose consciousness.
How long will it take to recover from a concussion? That depends, but typically most athletes will recover from a mild concussion between 1-3 weeks. The important thing to remember is that further serious injury can occur if an athlete returns to play before their brain has healed.
What can happen if an athlete is returned to play before they have recovered from a concussion? Athletes returned to play too early are at risk for sustaining successive brain injury. This subsequent injury can sometimes cause persistent and prolonged post concussive symptoms and an overall increase in the severity of concussion symptoms. In rare cases, a subsequent injury can cause Second Impact Syndrome, a severely disabling and sometimes fatal brain injury.
How do I know if an athlete has fully recovered from their concussion? An athlete must be completely symptom free at rest and exertion. However, even athletes who are not experiencing any further physical symptoms could still be recovering from their injury. The use of sensitive cognitive tests can aide in determining if the athlete is still healing from their head injury.
What do the cognitive tests tell us? The symptoms of a concussion tell us that there has been a change in brain function. These changes can include memory loss, decreased reaction speed, and attention difficulties. These areas can often be subtle and not noticed by the athlete or those around him. The cognitive testing program that we utilize is a highly sensitive tool that measures and assesses changes in brain function secondary to a concussion.
Why is a baseline test important? The baseline test will measure a brain before it is injured. In the event that a concussion injury occurs, we can provide the same testing post-injury. By comparing post-injury scores with the baseline, we can determine the severity of the injury and better monitor recovery. Once an athlete's post injury scores have returned to their baseline values, we can then utilize this information in making return to play decisions.
What if an athlete does not have a baseline? Actually, most of the athletes that we see do not have baseline testing. In this instance, we provide the same testing and simply compare the athletes score to a normative sample. While this is not ideal, we can still effectively manage the injury and monitor cognitive recovery. Generally without a baseline, we are more conservative in making return to play recomendations.
Is this service covered by my insurance? Baseline testing is not covered by your insurance. However, post injury evaluations are covered by your insurance. For an explanation of how we bill for our services, please read the "Explanation of Services" document