Concussion Treatment - New Strategies for Active Recovery
We all remember the scene from the past: a disoriented football player staggers to the sidelines, is met by a trainer with smelling salts, and then gets sent back onto the playing field without a second thought. Thankfully, that situation never happens anymore as the medical and athletic communities have come to realize that concussions are a serious injury, and stringent guidelines now prevent a concussed player from returning to play on the same day.
As with many things, however, increased awareness about the seriousness of concussions and their long-term impact caused the pendulum to swing in the opposite direction: concussed athletes were ordered to be on complete rest – physically, mentally, and socially – leaving them in near isolation for weeks and sometimes months on end.
A Better Approach to Sports Concussion Treatment
Today, the pendulum for the best practice in concussion treatment has returned to a more middle-of-the-road position. Rather than complete rest and inactivity for long stretches of time, the current recommendation now begins the process of returning to activity sooner. Often, this can include very light physical therapy and even going back to school on a highly modified schedule under the careful supervision of a highly trained medical team. Concussion Specialist Michelle Horn, D.O. of Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists notes, “leading experts in the field now recognize that the gentle and gradual return to activity plan can be more beneficial to the recovery process than the old approach with excessively long periods of complete rest. The key, of course, is very close monitoring of patient progress to make sure that the right amount of activity and stimulation is introduced, without going beyond what the patient is ready to handle.”
If your child plays sports in school, there are a few things you should know as a parent:
- Concussion definition: Medically speaking, a concussion is a type of traumatic injury to the brain from a jolt or blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth and “bounce” in the skull. This leads to chemical changes in the brain which manifests as a variety of symptoms.
- Symptoms of a concussion: Someone who has suffered a concussion may experience headaches, dizziness, sensitivity to light and sound, blurred vision, nausea, trouble focusing, insomnia, confusion, and depression.
- Signs a child or teen may have a concussion: Some people who suffer a concussion are not even aware of it, and the symptoms may not be outwardly noticeable. If you see a drop in your child’s academic performance, visible mood swings, unusual sleeping patterns, or just feel like your child is “not your kid” after a school sports accident, they might have a concussion.
- Diagnosing concussions: In order to diagnose a child’s concussion, a physical and neurological examination along with a look into their medical history is recommended. Concussions can be difficult to diagnose as every concussion causes different symptoms.
- Concussion treatment: While most concussions will resolve on their own, you should not assume it will. Take your child to a concussion specialist for diagnosis and a customized treatment plan. While it is likely that you will be told to restrict your child’s activity while the brain heals, you can also expect to help create a proactive plan for how and when your child will be able to return to school and activity.
Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists for Concussion Care
Has your child been diagnosed with a concussion after being hurt playing sports at school? Bucks County Orthopedic Specialists offers a concussion care program designed for school-age children and young adults. Our practice has strong relationships with the schools in our area, providing team physicians to cover the sidelines as well as working closely with school nurses. Led by Michelle Horn, D.O., concussion specialist for BCOS with fellowship training in sports medicine and concussions, our experienced team will thoroughly assess and develop a personalized treatment plan for each patient based on their unique needs and concerns. You can count on Dr. Horn to personally manage your child’s concussion care and sign school and sports releases when it is deemed safe for your child to return to regular activities.