There is a lot of talk about what to do immediately after suffering a concussion (rest, no electronics, fish oil, etc.) but we don’t talk enough about what to do if an individual isn’t recovering in the typical 7-10 day recovery timeline.
As previously mentioned, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher, one of the leading concussion experts in the US, points out that if a patient has not recovered from his or her concussion within two months, then they aren’t getting the right care or treatment.
There is no size fits all for concussions, and often times there are a variety of issues that can contribute to symptoms, which requires varying medical specialties. I put together a brief guide that outlines some doctors and treatment options that individuals suffering from a concussion might want to explore as they progress through recovery. Keep in mind, I am not a doctor and this information is based on my own experience and what was recommended to me.
The first place to start is a visit to your primary care doctor or a neurologist. They can help diagnose the injury and run relevant tests (such as an MRI, CT Scan or blood samples) which might determine the extent of damage.
Identify a reputable Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation doctor, Osteopathic doctor, or physical therapist if neck pain or tension is associated with a concussion. I emphasize reputability because not enough doctors know how to appropriately treat an injury like this, which brings me to a point of caution: don't let anyone put injections in your neck.
All of my issues with Post Concussion Syndrome were being generated from my neck, and it took me a long time to find the right professionals to diagnose and treat this appropriately.
Muscle tension in the neck and base of the skull can restrict blood flow to the brain, contributing to cognitive symptoms, and can restrict the nerves as well, which generates pain and headaches. These issues can be treated with a comprehensive stretching and strengthening routine. This is what helped me more than anything else.
I’ve seen a lot of different doctors to evaluate my neck, and there is no place more comprehensive and specialized than Terry Moore’s MMTR physical therapy concussion program in Guelph, Ontario. I have made the most progress in the shortest amount of time with the MMTR treatment plan.
Seek an evaluation by a vestibular therapist or neurological chiropractor if you suffer from abnormal balance and coordination, vertigo, dizziness, blurred vision and visual tracking issues.
The vestibular system includes the parts of the inner ear and brain that process sensory information involved with controlling balance and eye movements. These doctors will evaluate any abnormalities within this system and issue a variety of eye exercises to help return the brain to normal function.
An evaluation by a neuro-optometrist might be useful if an individual suffers from any eye issues, including convergence, visual coordination or blind spots. Neuro-optometry is a form of vision care combining neurology and optometry to assess how the brain processes information sent from the eyes.
The College of Optometrists in Vision Development website is useful to learn more and locate doctors near your hometown.
Neuropsychologists, psychiatrists and sports psychologists are professionals worth considering if an individual has any mood or mental health symptoms associated with the concussion. Neuropsychologists can evaluate the extent of cognitive and behavioral abnormalities through extensive psychological testing. The IMPACT Test is a common concussion test developed within the neuropsychology field.
Stay Physically Active
More and more top concussion experts are beginning to advocate physical activity as part of concussion rehabilitation, including Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher of the University of Michigan and Dr. Michael Collins of the University of Pittsburgh’s Medical Center.
One positive benefit of this approach is that it increases blood circulation throughout the brain, which can aid in recovery and help normalize the nervous system. If any issues are stemming from the neck, physical activity will also increase blood flow to those muscles, preventing prolonged fatigue and constriction.
The endorphins feel great, too!
All In One
If you’re looking for a comprehensive evaluation with a team of doctors to address each of these aspects and more, Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher’s Sports Neurology Clinic in Brighton, Michigan is the place to go.