Concussion Recovery FAQs

No matter your age, and whether you’re an athlete or not, you can experience a concussion. But no two concussions are alike. Every concussion and every recovery is specific to that person.

At the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, we tailor treatment plans to each patient’s symptoms, needs, and goals for recovery.

The following are answers from our experts addressing frequently searched-for concussion questions.

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What Is A Concussion?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a direct or indirect hit to your head or body.

Your brain sits inside your skull surrounded by fluid. When your head or body takes a hit, your brain shifts or shakes around inside the skull.

The impact damages your brain cells, causing chemical and cellular changes in the brain.

Are There Different Types of Concussions and Treatments?

Our experts have identified at least six different clinical profiles or types of concussion, each requiring a precise type of care to reach full recovery. Patients may experience one or more types of concussion at once. They fall into these categories:

1. Cognitive/fatigue

This type of concussion can cause you to have trouble with prolonged or complex mental tasks, complex subject matter, and long days. It can sometimes cause increased fatigue as the day goes on. Cognitive issues include:

  • Decreased concentration.
  • Increased distractibility.
  • Trouble learning/retaining new information.
  • Decreased multitasking skills.

2. Vestibular

This type of concussion can cause trouble with balance, motion, and vision. Impairments of the vestibular system — the balance center of the brain — affect one’s ability to:

  • Interpret motion.
  • Coordinate head and eye movements.
  • Steady or balance vision upon head movement.

3. Ocular

This type of concussion can cause you to have trouble with visual tasks, such as:

  • Reading long passages.
  • Looking at a computer screen or cell phone.

Ocular concussions also affect tandem eye movements. This may result in trouble bringing the eyes together or moving one’s eyes to track motion.

4. Post-traumatic migraine

This type of concussion can cause changes in your normal routine, such as sleeping in or avoiding loud concerts or sporting events. Symptoms include:

  • Headaches.
  • Nausea.
  • Sensitivity to light or noise.

5. Cervical

This type of concussion causes trouble with stress or pressure on the neck, spine, or spinal cord. It may lead to ongoing headaches. Actions such as slouching while on the computer or carrying a heavy backpack may worsen symptoms.

6. Anxiety/mood

This type of concussion makes it hard to turn your thoughts off and causes excessive worry or concern. This can cause problems with social interaction and may worsen if you avoid routine activities because of your concussion.

Is There A Way to Speed Up Concussion Recovery?

While there is no easy home remedy for a concussion, it’s important to act quickly. The faster you see an expert after sustaining a concussion, generally the faster your recovery will be.

Can My Diet Affect My Recovery?

Nutrition is always important, and it’s especially important for concussion recovery. Both your brain and body need the proper nutrients to heal properly.

Our brains use up an average 20% of our total calorie intake. Eating enough calories helps to give the brain enough energy to heal itself and function normally.

To learn more or schedule an appointment with the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program, please call 412-432-3681 or complete our contact form.

About Sports Medicine

An athletic lifestyle carries the potential for injury. Whether you’re an elite athlete or a weekend warrior, UPMC Sports Medicine can help. If you are looking to prevent, treat, or rehabilitate a sports injury, our multidisciplinary team of experts can help you get back into the game. If you are seeking to improve your athletic performance, we can work with you to meet your goals. We serve athletes and active people of all ages and experience levels. Our goal is to help you keep doing what you love. Visit our website to find a specialist near you.