Dr. Andrew Tucker: Hi! I am Dr. Andrew Tucker of Union Memorial Sports Medicine in MedStar Health and I would like to talk to you about treatment of concussions. Immediately after concussion is diagnosed or suspected, it is most important simply to keep the athlete out of play, out at risk of further trauma to the head and keeping them comfortable. It's perfectly okay for them to drink water, but it's most important for them to simply rest from any further physical activity.
Most of the time when a concussion has occurred to a young athlete, their symptoms will slowly improve in the minutes to hours, after the injury. If that is the case, with the young athlete, it is perfectly appropriate to take them home and continue treatment and observation at home.
However, if any of their symptoms are worsening after the time of the concussion, strong consideration should be given to taking them to the emergency room for further evaluation at that time. After you've taken your young athlete home with the concussion or suspected concussion, it is important to rest them physically and also mentally.
They should not engage in sports or fitness activities even regardless of whether there's a risk of further head injury. It's important to put their mind at rest. They shouldn't be reading, they should not participate in things like video games, anything that puts stress on their brain. When they're feeling more like themselves, they can start to engage in cognitive or thinking type activities, such as, reading and studying and watching TV and then, if no symptoms occur with those types of simple activities, we will start to get the athlete more active physically, initially with very light aerobic activities in increasing their activities over time.
It's impossible to predict how long a concussion will take to heal, once concussion occurs, but on average in a young athlete it takes at least seven to ten days, before a concussion is completely resolved, and okay to return to sports or fitness activities. If an athlete is suspected of having a more serious concussion or a possibly more serious head injury and is taken to an emergency room, a thorough neurological evaluation at the emergency room will be undertaken and often times more testing will be done. Often times CAT scan or type of imaging of the brain to determine that a more serious head injury such as a bruise to the brain or a bleeding in the brain has not occurred will be done to rule those more important injuries out.
Once, that has been undertaken then the diagnosis of concussion only can be confirmed and the athlete will be allowed to go home. The brain needs rest in order to recover from a concussion.