Pang Physical Therapy

What to Do Immediately After a Concussion

What to Do immediately after a concussion

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that occurs when the brain experiences a sudden jolt or blow. It can happen due to various reasons such as sports activities (e.g., football, soccer), falls, or car accidents. While a concussion is typically caused by a direct impact to the head, it can also occur indirectly if a hit to the body causes the head and neck to whip back and forth suddenly.

Immediate action and proper management of a concussion are crucial to minimize potential risks and avoid long-term consequences such as persistent symptoms. The field of concussion recovery is rapidly changing as are best practices. If you’ve recently sustained a concussion, here are some key steps to follow.

Sit Out

Do not dismiss any head trauma, as even small collisions can cause a concussion. It is not necessary to lose consciousness for a concussion to occur. If you suffered a head injury while participating in a sport, immediately sit out and assess how you are feeling. Remain vigilant for common symptoms of a concussion such as headaches, dizziness, difficulty concentrating, confusion, sensitivity to light, blurry vision, irritability, and nausea. Some symptoms of a concussion may not manifest until hours or even days after a head impact.

Seek Medical Attention Promptly

Early intervention is key to ensuring a smooth recovery. Seek out your doctor or any other appropriate healthcare professional so that they can properly assess your injury and direct you towards best steps. A concussion is generally a highly recoverable injury but if left untreated,  can lead to long term consequences such as persistent symptoms, post traumatic migraine, and other degenerative effects. Ideally, you would see a provider specializing in concussion as best practices are rapidly changing. Your healthcare provider will want to know such things as how did the injury occur or was there a loss of consciousness. Their assessment will often look at your eye movements and any neck dysfunction. 

Watch for Additional Symptoms

Concussion symptoms can emerge days after an initial injury so it is important to stay vigilant. You may feel alright after your initial injury but symptoms of dizziness, nausea, headache, or trouble concentrating can occur days later. It’s also important to recognize signs and symptoms that may indicative of a more serious neurological injury. If you experience symptoms such as sudden weakness, difficulty speaking or swallowing, or double vision, call an ambulance right away and seek immediate attention. 

Focus on Recovery

The good news is that concussion is a highly recoverable injury. Your healthcare provider will provide you with best steps to take. Unfortunately, not all healthcare providers are aware of best practices for concussion management and it is hence best to seek advice from a provider who specializes in concussion recovery. If you sustained a concussion during a sport, it is critical that you don’t rush back to play too soon, and follow appropriate return-to-play protocols. You are especially vulnerable to additional brain injuries while you are recovering from your initial concussion. A second concussion on top of your initial is called second impact syndrome. 

Click here to learn more about how physical therapy plays a role in managing concussions.


Dr. Jimmy Pang PT/DPT

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