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Recovering From A Sports Concussion Not Just A Waiting Game

Medical Advances Make Proactive Management Possible

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Matt Stresak, Physician's Assistant at the Sports Concussion Institute in Marina del Rey, California, talks about the Institute's pro-active approach to concussion evaluation and management.

In addition to the role played by medical professionals in concussion management, parents also play an important role in their child's recovery from a suspected concussion.

Experts advise parents to:

  1. Engage in regular and close monitoring for first 24 to 48 hours to check for signs of deteriorating mental status.  Although most sport-related concussions are mild, the potential always exists for complications, some life-threatening (such as bleeding on the brain or second-impact syndrome). Such complications may occur immediately (minutes to hours) or over several days after the injury.

  2. Wake up their child if he experienced a loss of consciousness or prolonged amnesia after the injury, or was still experiencing other significant post-concussion signs or symptoms at bedtime. There is no need to check his eyes with a flashlight or test his reflexes.

  3. Give Acetaminophen (e.g. Tylenol®)  sparingly but avoid medications containing aspirin or non-steroidal anti-inflammatories (e.g. Ibuprofen/Advil®).

  4. Warn about drug use dangers: ingesting alcohol, illicit drugs, or other substances may interfere with cognitive function and neurologic recovery.

  5. Require physical rest but not complete bed rest.

  6. Require cognitive rest: no homework and staying home from school while symptomatic.

  7. Allow gradual return-to-play following a step-wise approach to return-to-play utilizing progressive aerobic and resistance exercise challenge tests.

  8. Provide normal, well-balanced diet.

  9. Take child for further testing/management if  post-concussion symptoms  last more than 10 days or recur with exertion; the child experienced concussive convulsions or loss of consciousness (LOC) of one minute or more at the time of injury;has a history of multiple concussions; or has learning disabilities.

  10. Trust your instincts. Don't be afraid to ask your child how he is feeling, or take him to his pediatrician or a specialist if you suspect something is wrong.