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  • Concussion Discussion

    What is a Concussion?

    A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by rapid, forceful movement of the brain against the skull. It is usually caused by a bump or blow to the head, but it can also occur when the upper body is shaken violently.

    // To request an appointment, call 1-877-756-4240

    Watch: An Athlete’s Take – What a Concussion Feels Like


    What are the Signs of a Concussion?

    As you just saw in Wyatt’s video, ringing in the ears can be a symptom of a concussion. In addition, any of the following symptoms could mean your student athlete has a concussion:

    • Headache or head “pressure”
    • Nausea or vomiting
    • Balance problems
    • Double or blurry vision
    • Sensitivity to light or noise
    • Feeling sluggish, hazy, or foggy
    • Concentration or memory problems
    • Just not “feeling right” or “feeling down”
    this infographic defines what a concussion is and also shows some signs and symptoms of a concussion

    Click Image to Enlarge – Concussion Facts. Printable Version.

    Concussion Myths

    There are many myths about concussions. For example, one common myth is that you have to get knocked out to have a concussion. Another myth is that student athletes need to rest throughout the entire concussion recovery period. Get the facts. Play the video below to hear our concussion expert, Dr. Javier Cárdenas, debunk common concussion myths.

    Watch: Dr. Javier Cárdenas Dispels Concussion Myths


    When to See a Doctor for Concussion

    If your student athlete sustains a concussion in a school sport, they should be closely followed by the school’s athletic trainer. It is important to maintain open communication with the trainer throughout your student athlete’s recovery. Some athletes will recover on their own without any therapies or medications. However, if your student athlete has a history of concussions, or severe or worsening symptoms, the trainer may recommend further evaluation by a concussion expert.

    If your student athlete experiences any of the following symptoms after a hit to the head, he or she should be evaluated in an emergency room:

    • Confusion
    • Decreased awareness of surroundings
    • Difficulty waking from sleep
    • Loss of consciousness
    • Nausea
    • Vomiting
    • Seizures
    • Severe or worsening headache
    • Slurred speech
    Informational graphic showing the steps taken to prevent a concussion, how and when concussions are identified, and what takes place after a concussion is diagnosed.

    Click Image to Enlarge – Concussion Timeline. Printable Version.

    To request an appointment with one of our concussion experts, please call 1-877-756-4240.

    // Find a Concussion Specialist

    How do I Know if my Student Athlete Needs Imaging Tests?

    Not everyone with a concussion needs a CT or MRI scan. If your student athlete is evaluated in an emergency room due to the symptoms listed above, the ER physician may order a CT scan to check for a brain bleed.

    A physician may order an MRI if your student athlete seems to be getting worse instead of better, recovery is taking longer than expected, or your student athlete is experiencing symptoms that are not typically seen with a concussion.

    Watch: An Athlete’s Take – The Concussion Recovery Process


    What Treatments are Available for Concussion?

    Every concussion is different. The best treatment for your child depends on their specific symptoms. Our neurologists may recommend one or more of the following therapies:

    • Balance therapy
    • Cognitive behavioral therapy
    • Occupational therapy
    • Speech therapy
    This informational graphic shows tips and strategies to help your child recover from a concussion

    Click Image to Enlarge – Concussion Recovery Tips. Printable Version.

    What Rehabilitation Services Does Barrow Offer?

    The Outpatient Concussion Rehabilitation Program at Barrow offers comprehensive therapy services that are tailored to meet your student athlete’s needs. We place a specific focus on returning to sports, work, school, driving, and other community activities. Our program is accredited by the Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities, demonstrating our ongoing commitment to excellent care.

    Our services include:

    • Balance retraining, vestibular rehabilitation, and sensory integration training
    • Cognitive retraining, information processing, and organization
    • Community resources and information
    • Sport-specific exercises
    • Work simulation
    • Return-to-driving training
    • Return-to-education training
    • Assistance in academic or work accommodations
    Informational graphic showing the benefits of wearing a helmet during physical activities

    Click Image to Enlarge – Helmet Your Head. Printable Version.

    What Should my Student Athlete Expect in Concussion Rehabilitation?

    Concussion patients are typically evaluated by physical, occupational, and speech therapists. Each therapist will assess the patient and, if needed, provide recommendations for ongoing therapy. Most patients attend therapy once or twice per week for 6 to 12 weeks.

    A physical therapist will assess:

    • Balance
    • Dizziness
    • Pain
    • Performance of work functions
    • Performance of school functions
    • Participation in sports
    • Walking
    • Running
    • Vision
    informational graphic showing the steps for getting back to the classroom after a concussion

    Click Image to Enlarge – Return to Learn. Printable Version.

    An occupational therapist will assess:

    • Coordination
    • Driving performance
    • Performance of work and school functions
    • Reaction time
    • Upper extremity and grip strength
    • Vision (ocular motor control, ocular alignment, visual-perceptual skills)
    A speech therapist will assess:

    • Concentration
    • Frustration tolerance
    • Memory
    • Organization
    • Performance of work and school functions
    • Processing speed
    • Reading
    • Time management
    • Word finding
    Informational graphic showing the steps to return to playing a sport or activity after a concussion

    Click Image to Enlarge – Return to Play. Printable Version.

    Watch: Christian Kirk’s Take – The Role of Brainbook


    Barrow Brainbook – Concussion Prevention and Education

    Education is the best way to increase awareness. Barrow Brainbook is the nation’s first mandated education and testing module for student athletes. Under this program, Arizona became the first in the United States to mandate all high school student athletes undergo concussion education and pass a formal test before play. The education is mandated through the Arizona Interscholastic Association (AIA). In addition, schools outside of Arizona have begun to adopt Brainbook. To date, more than 1 million students have completed Brainbook.

    // Learn more about Brainbook

    Barrow Brainbook is part of the Barrow Concussion Network, which also provides baseline concussion testing and telemedicine. Since its inception, more than 400 athletic training consultations have taken place as a result of sidelines telemedicine. The technology can connect the network’s medical team with players in real time, including during a game immediately after an athlete sustains a hard hit to the head.

    Request an Appointment

    Call 1-877-756-4240

    About Barrow Neurological Institute
    Since our doors opened as a regional specialty center in 1962, we have grown into one of the premier destinations in the world for neurology and neurosurgery. Our experienced, highly skilled, and comprehensive team of neurological specialists can provide you with a complete spectrum of care–from diagnosis through outpatient neurorehabilitation–under one roof. Barrow Neurological Institute: Discover. Educate. Heal.