Concussion Evaluation, Treatment & Management
Concussions can affect the athlete more seriously than any other sports injury. Muir Orthopaedic Specialists offers a unique Concussion Management Program under the direction of one of the nation’s top concussion experts, Dr. Matthew Pecci.
Our Concussion Management Program guides each patient through his or her concussion recovery by focusing on cognitive and physical rest from exertions that trigger symptoms and interfere with normal life. We show patients how they should adjust their daily activities in school, work or family life to reduce the effects of symptoms and to promote the most thorough recovery.
Key elements of our Concussion Management Program include:
- An analysis of the concussion’s nature and severity
- Assessing the degree of various symptoms
- A plan for adjusting cognitive and physical activities in the recovery period
- Evaluating potential psychological effects of concussion
- On-going evaluation toward recovery and a safe return to normal activities.
We do not grade concussions into particular levels. The severity of a concussion depends on many factors, including number and types of symptoms, concussion history, duration of symptoms, and other history and exam findings. Often we cannot truly determine how “severe” a concussion is until a patient has fully recovered and we review the entire course of their symptoms and recovery.
Assessment of concussion symptoms
The nature of a patient’s symptoms guides our treatment plan. This is an on-going assessment so we can adjust activities as symptom degrees change.
- Patient self-reporting is a major way of assessing concussion symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, difficulty thinking and remembering, fatigue and confusion.
- Our symptom checklist evaluates the presence and severity of more than 20 symptoms.
- We look at symptoms at rest and also evaluate what degree of cognitive or physical activities makes those symptoms worse.
- We may also use computer-based neurocognitive testing or advanced balance testing to assess the effects of a concussion.
- Through dialog with patients, we find out about how they function in school or at work, whether they can focus on tasks, if they retain information, and if their symptoms get worse with these activities.
Adjusting physical & cognitive activities after a concussion
Through this detailed analysis, we can advise concussion patients on how to curtail their physical and cognitive activities. Like any injured body part, the concussed brain needs rest to heal properly.
Once we learn what patients can and cannot do without aggravating symptoms, we help them adjust their activities. This may include:
- Physical rest
- Academic accommodations such as decreased assignments, reduced class schedule, rest periods during the school day and limitation of homework and test taking. We also work with adults to arrange similar cognitive or physical restrictions in the workplace.
We monitor concussion patients regularly so we will know when it’s best to get them back to school or work full time, without impairing their recovery.
Monitoring physical activity level and its effect on symptoms is a particularly vital aspect of our care for athletes. We take care not to return concussed athletes to competition or training until we are sure that they can do so safely. Upon return to activity we individualize programs to introduce a patient back to activity in a step-wise fashion.
Evaluating psychological effects of concussion
Our Concussion Management Program includes evaluation of psychological effects. Depression and anxiety can be common symptoms of concussion. Other factors such as cloudy thinking, impaired memory and the loss of physical activity can also have a negative psychological impact on the concussed patient.
We screen our patients for these psychological effects, which often resolve as the concussion symptoms resolve. However, certain situations may require short-term use of medications and close medical follow up.
Contact us to request an appointment with our concussion management physician or to learn more about our program.