So You Had a Concussion, Now What? Learn the Do’s and Don’ts

Written by:
Dr. Kelsy Rayl
March 25, 2022

If you suspect that you’ve sustained a concussion, fast track your recovery by following these general guidelines. You may not even realize you have signs and symptoms of a concussion until you try normal everyday activities. Early intervention is essential to safely recover. A concussion trained physical therapist can help you. Click here to get started.

Do’s

  • Rest initially: Concussion results in lowered brain energy so avoid strenuous physical and mental activities during the first 24-48 hours.
  • Sleep if no red flags: If there are no red flags (nausea/vomiting, worsening headache, weakness, significant confusion or altered mental state, slurred speech, loss of coordination or difficulty walking, seizures or loss of consciousness, etc.), then get a good night’s sleep. Take naps as needed. If you do have red flags, call 911 or seek medical attention immediately.
  • Eat right and drink plenty of water: Proper nutrition improves energy and plays an important role in recovery. Follow the directions of your physical therapist, nutritionist, or other qualified healthcare professional.
  • Follow return-to-activity protocols: Guided return to learn, work, and activity protocols can help you make a successful recovery. Follow the directions of your physical therapist.

 

Don’ts

  • Play sports: Do not participate in sports before full recovery and clearance from your physical therapist or physician. It is dangerous and can put you at risk of more severe injury.
  • Work or study: Take some time off from school and work in the initial phases of recovery.
  • Drive: Do not drive for at least 24 hours. If driving increases your symptoms, find a friend or family member to take you to appointments or commitments.
  • Drink alcohol or take drugs: These can make you feel worse, mask your symptoms, and delay proper recovery and healing.

 

Treatment & Recovery

Sustaining a concussion or head injury always requires medical care. Even if you don’t “feel that bad” right after the accident, you should be evaluated. A physician will perform a neurological exam and imaging exams to rule out any life threatening bleeding, swelling, or fractures in the skull. Within a week of your injury, seek evaluation by a concussion trained physical therapist to ensure you can transition back to school, work, and/or sports without difficulty.

 

Most people feel “back to normal” (i.e. resolution of symptoms) within 10-14 days of their injury and make a full recovery within 4 weeks. Children as well as people with a history of concussion or mental health issues, such as anxiety or depression, may take longer to recover.

You should not return to sport or vigorous exercise until your symptoms are completely resolved and your physical therapist has given you the go ahead to return to sports. Returning to sports before you’re ready increases the risk of sustaining another head injury. Suffering a second concussion before the first has healed can lead to life-threatening and even fatal consequences.

Get started

If you’ve been involved in a traumatic accident or sports-related injury. Our physical therapists have experience treating concussions, whiplash, and soft tissue damage.

At Activcore, you will receive a full hour of one-on-one attention. Our techniques and technology are engaging and effective. Your treatment program will be tailored to your individual needs, lifestyle and goals. Together, we can help you reduce your symptoms, improve your balance, and restore your quality of life! Click here to get started now.

Not sure if you actually have a concussion? Check out my previous blog on the 5 Signs of Concussion.

Disclaimer:  The views expressed in this article are based on the opinion of the author, unless otherwise noted, and should not be taken as personal medical advice. The information provided is intended to help readers make their own informed health and wellness decisions.

Dr. Kelsy Rayl

Physical Therapist
Kelsy Rayl is a Doctor of Physical Therapy (DPT) who specializes in vestibular rehabilitation, concussions, and general orthopedics. She works at Activcore in Castle Rock, CO which is located inside Optimal Health Chiropractic. While she enjoys helping all types of people achieve their activity and lifestyle goals, Kelsy particularly enjoys working with patients dealing with disorders that result in dizziness and patient’s recovering post-concussion. Kelsy is proud to be a part of her patient’s journey as they return to the core activities and daily abilities which make them feel like themselves.
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