Concussions can be tricky to diagnose. They are not a structural problem like a visible cut or bruise on your head, they are rather a functional problem, like not being able to concentrate, having a headache, of feeling dizzy. Signs and symptoms may not appear for days or weeks after the injury. Some symptoms may only last seconds, others may linger for much longer.
That is why it is important to evaluate what your symptoms are being caused by, only then can the correct management begin.
Please click here to download a quick evaluation that may help you determine if you or a loved one may be suffering from the signs and symptoms of a concussion.
Once a severe injury is ruled out, it is important to assess what type of concussion you have and determine the appropriate treatments.
If you have sustained what you believe Loss of consciousness (LOC) is rare, occurring in less than 10% of concussions, but the identification of LOC can be very tricky, as the patient may lose consciousness very briefly and this event may not be directly observed by others. By definition, LOC represents a state of brief coma in which the eyes are typically closed and the patient is unresponsive to external stimuli.
Although helpful in identifying more serious concerns (e.g. skull fracture, hematoma, contusion), traditional neurological and radiologic procedures, such as CT, MRI, and EEG, are not useful in identifying the effects of concussion. Such tests are typically unremarkable or normal, even in athletes sustaining a severe concussion. The reason for this issue is that concussion is a metabolic or functional injury, rather than a structural injury. Thus, structural neuroimaging techniques are insensitive to the effects of concussion.
Concussion patients may need testing procedures. However, it should be noted that the need for advanced imaging in concussion cases is not common.
- Neurologic examination: This exam allows us to take a detailed look at the various functions of your brain, including reflexes, memory and focus, vision and eye movements, balance and equilibrium, and sensations. It is the most important part of the concussion assessment.
- Orthopaedic Examination: Evaluation of the joints of the neck may help identify where your symptoms are coming from and if further evaluation is required to rule out greater injury.
- Soft Tissue Examination: Many injuries to the head and neck often result in soft tissue injuries that result in long lasting symptoms. A detailed evaluation and further treatment of the soft tissue is necessary in every concussion and mild traumatic head injury.
- Vestibular Examination: Determining how your vestibular system is reacting to balance and the understanding of how your body is positioned and is moving in space can help in the recovery of concussions
- Vestibulo-Ocular Exam: Trauma to the head and neck can result in your an inability for you to properly understand how your eyes, ears and neck work together to allow for you to move and adapt to changes in the environment around you. Evaluating this system is imperative in identifying the cause of your symptoms and proper management will help prevent long term debilitation.
- MRI, CT or X-Rays: You may be referred out for advanced imaging to take pictures of your brain, head, blood vessels or skull in more serious injuries.
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CAUTION: The above is only a guide and should not be used as a substitute for being evaluated by a regulated health care professional that has experience in managing concussions and mild traumatic brain injuries (mTBI). If you have any questions about your condition, please feel free to contact us your convenience. If you feel that this is a medical emergency, please visit your closest hospital emergency department.