The symptoms of a concussion usually subside and disappear within five to 10 days. During that time, resting the body and the brain should move the recovery process along. The chemical changes that have occurred with a concussion last longer than the symptoms, so returning to exertion and contact sports should be started in steps once the symptoms have gone away. Doctors may treat some of the symptoms such as a headache, but there is no medicine that can help the chemicals of the brain return to balance. Time and rest are key.
It is extremely important that people with concussion symptoms not return to exertion activities or sports. If the brain has another jolt or blow before it has healed or fully recovered from the first concussion, a person may experience second impact syndrome (SIS). SIS is a rapid, fatal brain swelling that may occur if a person suffers another head impact - even a minor one - before the physical and cognitive symptoms of a previous concussion have fully cleared.
It is important that your family doctor be aware of your concussion. If symptoms persist beyond 10 to 14 days, a person may be experiencing post concussive syndrome (PCS) and should seek treatment from a family doctor or a specialized concussion clinic. While there are no medicines that can help the brain chemicals balance, there are treatments for other symptoms such as dizziness, depression, headaches, fatigue, reduced memory and others.
Treatment of post concussive syndrome (PCS)
Post concussive patients will usually have either a CT or MRI scan performed. These tests will ensure that there are no obvious deformities.
If symptoms persist past two to four weeks, in-depth cognitive testing is done to help with a recovery plan. A physician will gather information from the testing, an interview with the patient and exam for symptoms, and will create a plan for the patient to return to daily activities. When the patient is symptom free, a step by step exertion plan will be discussed and monitored for those returning to sports and/or highly physical activities.
The goal is to help the patient return to the same activity level and brain chemical balance as they had before the concussion. This is not always possible. If a patient does not show improvement with treatment and monitoring, ways to compensate for these lasting symptoms are supported through the health care team.