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Concussion Services

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Common Symptoms of Concussion

Physical: Headache, Dizziness, Nausea/Vomiting, Light sensitivity/ Sound sensitivity 

Cognitive: Feeling “foggy,” Difficulty concentrating, Memory problems, Cognitive Fatigue

Sleep: Difficulty falling asleep, Difficulty staying asleep, Fatigue, Tinnitus (ringing in ears)  

Mood: Sadness/Depression, Anxiety, Irritability, Vision problems   

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a brain injury and must be treated carefully. Concussions occur when the brain moves around inside the skull. When a concussion occurs, the chemicals in the brain are impacted, leading to an ‘energy crisis’. When the brain isn’t getting enough energy, it attempts to compensate by “pulling” energy from other places. The location of these places often dictates what symptoms you may have.

How is concussion treated?

There is no ‘one-size fits all’ approach for treating concussion. In fact, because every person and every injury is different, no two concussions are the same. The concussion experts at WakeMed Concussion Program utilize the most recent research on evaluation and management of concussions, and will develop a personalized treatment plan that is right for you.

Our team includes medical professionals, neuropsychologists and physical therapists all trained in concussion management. A thorough evaluation will help to determine where your symptoms are coming from, and why you feel the way you do. The evaluation may consist of

  • Clinical Interview:
    • Your provider will ask a series of questions to better understand not only your injury, but also you as a whole person. By asking specific questions about your symptoms and your medical history, the team will better be able to develop your personalized treatment plan.
  • Vestibular/Ocular Motor Screening:
    • The vestibular system helps us move around the world, and helps us see the world moving around us. It is also integral in regulating our ability to balance. Many people experience vestibular dysfunction following concussion. Our providers will perform a brief evaluation to determine if this is occurring for you.
  • Neurocognitive Testing:
    • Neurocognitive testing is a valuable part of a concussion evaluation for some patients. Often times after a concussion people experience memory problems or feel “foggy”, and neuropsychological testing can help determine why.

After evaluation, an individualized treatment plan will be developed for you, which may include referrals to physical therapy or other providers.

The physical therapists at WakeMed are trained to properly manage dizziness and balance difficulties stemming from concussion, and will help get you back to your normal activities as quickly as possible. The physical therapist will screen for any balance, vision, or motion sensitivity deficits following your concussion and use treatment methods to improve your overall stability and tolerance to daily tasks. Interventions may include:

  • Eye exercises to retrain the brain due to any motion sensitivity or dizziness
  • Balance and strength training
  • Graded and carefully monitored cardiovascular exercise
  • Return to work/return to sport tasks 

The length that symptoms last can be different for everyone, because it depends not only on the injury itself, but also on your personal risk factors as well as your approach to recovery. The good news is that with the right treatment by providers specifically trained in concussion management, most people are able to make a very good recovery.

For more information and resources on concussion, visit the Sports Neuropsychology Society online.