When a person sustains a concussion, they and their families may have many questions. They are often concerned about the immediate effects of concussion and fearful of how long recovery will take.
Here are some issues to discuss with a concussion expert to get more clarity on your individual concussion journey.
How Long Will My Recovery Take?
Just as every concussion is unique, so too is every recovery. Some symptoms—such as migraines and dizziness—require longer recovery times. It’s important that you follow the treatment plan closely and ensure adequate sleep, nutrition, exercise, hydration, and stress management. Still, every person suffering from a concussion will recover at their own pace.
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Can I Sleep Normally?
The brain needs adequate sleep in order to heal properly. Experts recommend that people with concussion follow a regulated sleep schedule with a similar sleep time and wake time each day. Research has shown that lack of sleep during concussion recovery can cause fatigue, headaches, and emotional distress. Avoid naps unless napping was part of your typical schedule prior to your injury. Naps can cause problems falling asleep at night and lead to poor-quality sleep that could prolong your recovery.
Can I Go to School or Work?
The answer is different for each individual based on their current symptoms. In general, most people will miss a few days of school or work initially, but can return to their regular schedule relatively quickly. While you might not want to return on a full-time basis right away, it’s important to return to your normal environments soon after the concussion. You might need individualized accommodations to help control excess environmental stimuli, such as bright lights, loud noises, and crowded hallways. There are also ways to help students stay on top of their classes while recovering from a concussion.
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Am I Still Allowed to do Physical Activity?
The answer is different for each individual based on their current symptoms and treatment plan. In general, doctors recommend 30 minutes of physical activity per day. You might take a leisurely walk or a slow ride on a stationary bike in the beginning. As you progress in your recovery, you’ll likely be given more dynamic movement and exercises.
What Activities Do I Need to Avoid?
In general, patients should avoid any activity that poses risk of reinjury while still recovering from a concussion, as it takes less force to reinjure an already concussed brain.
Can I Still Drive?
Driving is a complex activity requiring visual, manual, and cognitive efficiency. If your concussion has compromised any of these areas, you should not drive unless absolutely necessary. Your doctor can tell you when it’s safe for you to resume driving.
What Are The Long-Term Consequences of My Injury?
Most research that cites long-term consequences from concussion is outdated and was published before doctors began comprehensive concussion evaluation and management as best practices for recovery. Doctors now believe that active management of concussion decreases the likelihood of repeated injury or long-term consequences.
The UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program manages concussions in athletes and non-athletes alike. To learn more or make an appointment with one of our experts, please visit our website or call 412-432-3681.
About Sports Medicine
Sports and physical activity bring with them a potential for injury. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury – or improve athletic performance – UPMC Sports Medicine and the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program can help. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our experts partner with the Pittsburgh Steelers, Pittsburgh Penguins, Pitt Panthers, and about 100 other high school, college, and regional teams and events throughout Pennsylvania – working daily to build better athletes.