How are Concussions Treated?

Table of Contents


Understanding Concussions: Definition and Causes

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI), induced by a blow, bump, or jolt to the head that disrupts the normal function of the brain. It’s not always a visible head wound or loss of consciousness, but could manifest through various physical, cognitive, and emotional symptoms.

mpact of a blow to the head causing a concussion

Concussions typically occur due to a forceful impact to the head. Most commonly, they occur in high-contact activities like sports or accidents. For instance, football players, cyclists, or car accident victims are at high risk. However, a concussion can also result from a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head, even without a direct impact.

common causes of concussions

To fully comprehend the treatment of concussions, understanding their causes and definition is crucial. In the next section, we’ll delve deeper into the treatment options for concussions.

Recognizing the Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

Concussions, a type of traumatic brain injury, can manifest in a variety of ways. The symptoms can be subtle and may not appear immediately, making them easily overlooked.

Common Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

  1. Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  2. Temporary loss of consciousness
  3. Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  4. Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  5. Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  6. Ringing in the ears
  7. Nausea
  8. Vomiting
  9. Slurred speech
  10. Delayed response to questions
  11. Appearing dazed

Variability of Symptoms Based on Severity

The Mayo Clinic states that the severity of the concussion can greatly influence the symptoms. More severe concussions can result in prolonged headaches, memory loss, mood changes, and even seizures. It’s essential to seek medical attention if any symptoms persist or worsen.

mindmap varying degrees of concussion severity and the corresponding symptoms.

The Importance of Immediate Medical Attention for Concussions

Concussions are serious injuries that should never be taken lightly. Prompt medical attention is crucial for anyone suspected of having a concussion. This is because the impact to the brain can cause swelling or bleeding, both of which can be life-threatening. Mayo Clinic emphasizes that even seemingly minor head injuries can cause significant long-term complications.

mindmap varying degrees of concussion severity and the corresponding symptoms.

Potential Complications of Untreated Concussions

If a concussion is not treated promptly, it can result in serious complications. These include chronic headaches, difficulty with concentration, memory problems, and even post-concussion syndrome according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. In severe cases, untreated concussions can lead to lasting brain damage or even death. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to seek immediate medical attention if a concussion is suspected.

Remember, you only have one brain, and it’s essential to protect it. Don’t hesitate to seek medical attention if you suspect a concussion.

Evaluation and Diagnosis Methods for Concussions

When it comes to diagnosing a concussion, two primary methods are used: physical examination and imaging tests. During a physical examination, a healthcare provider will often ask about the injury and symptoms. They might also perform a neurological exam to assess balance, coordination, and reflexes. It’s crucial to provide a detailed and accurate account of the injury and symptoms to aid in the diagnosis.

Concussion Evaluation

Imaging tests such as a CT scan or MRI are also often used in diagnosing a concussion. These tests produce detailed images of the brain and can help identify brain bleeding or swelling, which could indicate a more serious injury.

CT scan and MRI images showing brain injury

Initial Treatment for Concussions: Rest, Recovery, and Pain Management

The aftermath of a concussion can be daunting, but with the right approach, it’s manageable. Two key elements of initial treatment are rest and pain management.

Rest and Recovery: The Cornerstones of Concussion Care

Post-concussion, it’s vital for your brain to have ample time to heal. This involves both physical and mental rest. Avoid strenuous activities and take breaks from tasks that require heavy cognitive effort. Just like a sprained ankle, your brain needs time to recover.

Pain Management – Dealing with Headaches and Other Symptoms

Concussions often lead to headaches and other physical discomfort. Over-the-counter pain relievers can be used. However, consult with a healthcare professional before starting any medication regimen. They can guide you to the appropriate treatment based on your specific symptoms and overall health.

Ongoing Concussion Management and Rehabilitation

Concussions are serious injuries that require meticulous management and rehabilitation. Two key components of this process are cognitive and physical therapy.

Cognitive Therapy

Cognitive therapy is a proven method for addressing memory and thinking problems, often experienced by concussion patients. It involves strategies to enhance cognitive skills and compensate for any deficits. The goal is to improve the patient’s functionality in daily life.

Physical Therapy

Concussions can also result in physical symptoms such as balance issues and dizziness. Physical therapy plays a crucial role here. Therapists use specific exercises to improve balance, coordination, and strength, which can significantly alleviate these symptoms.

In the comprehensive management of concussions, integrating both cognitive and physical therapies can vastly improve patient outcomes.

Role of Medications in Concussion Treatment

While rest and graduated return to normal activities are crucial in managing a concussion, medications often play a supportive role in the treatment process. They are typically used to alleviate symptoms and aid recovery.

For instance, pain relievers such as acetaminophen (Tylenol) can be used to manage headaches. Nonsteroidal anti-inflammatory drugs (NSAIDs) like ibuprofen, though not usually recommended immediately after a concussion due to potential bleeding risks, may be used under medical supervision to control pain or inflammation at later stages.

Other medications might be needed to manage symptoms such as sleep disturbances, dizziness, and mood changes. These could include sleep aids, anti-anxiety medications, or antidepressants, always under the guidance of a healthcare provider.

Remember, while medications can be beneficial, they should not replace the primary treatment strategies of rest and a gradual return to normal activities. Always consult with a medical professional before starting any medication regimen.

I recommend the addition of a chart here that provides a visual overview of the types of medications commonly used in concussion treatment, along with their primary uses. This would aid in comprehension of the content and further elucidate the role of medications in managing concussion symptoms.

Preventing Future Concussions

One of the most effective ways to mitigate future concussions is by adopting precautionary measures. These include wearing proper equipment, learning and practicing good technique, and adhering to the rules of the sport. Regular physical examinations and being aware of the symptoms can also significantly reduce the risk.

Athletes wearing protective sports gear

Importance of Proper Healing

Returning to normal activities or sports without complete healing can lead to Second Impact Syndrome; a condition that can have devastating consequences. Research indicates that complete cognitive rest and gradually resuming activities under professional guidance can ensure safe recovery.


While concussions are treatable, prevention and proper healing are crucial to avoid long-term impacts. With the right precautions and adherence to recovery guidelines, the risk of future concussions can be substantially reduced.


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    Due to popular demand, we are presently have no appointments available for new eating disorder patients. We are however, adding more staff to high demand, and more spaces will open up shortly. Please fill out the form below to register your interest.

    Dr Martha Pyron
    Martha Pyron, MD
    Sports Medicine Specialist / Physician / Clinic Owner

    Dr. Pyron is board certified in both family medicine and sports medicine. She obtained her medical degree from The University of Texas Health Science Center in San Antonio, completed a residency program in Family Medicine at Southern Colorado Family Medicine, and pursued a fellowship in Sports Medicine at Michigan State University, Kalamazoo Center for Medical Studies. After becoming board certified in both family medicine and sports medicine, she started her career as a team physician for Penn State University. She then returned to her home state of Texas and worked as a Sports Medicine Specialist and Team Physician for the University of Texas at Austin.


    Dr Pyron is currently the founder and president of Medicine in Motion. She is an active member of the American Medical Society for Sports Medicine and the American College of Sports Medicine. She maintains a relationship with the University of Texas by teaching classes for the Athletic Training students and by providing the Medical Director role for the Exercise In Aging Research Laboratory headed by Dr. Hiro Tanaka at the University of Texas. In 2012, Dr. Pyron also became certified in Musculoskeletal Sonography allowing her to provide diagnostic and procedural ultrasound exams in her office at the time of a patient visit!


    Dr. Pyron has lived and worked in Austin since 2003 and has developed extensive connections with specialized orthopedic surgeons, chiropractors, acupuncturists, massage therapists, athletic trainers, strength trainers, and other healthcare professionals who provide excellent service. She enjoys working together as a team with a variety of healthcare professionals to provide customized and optimal care for her patients.


    Although Dr. Pyron also has training and is board certified as a family physician, she prefers to limit her practice to sports medicine. This means that she wants you to maintain your relationship with your family doctor, but see her for sports injuries, training questions, or illnesses which affect your activity level. Please let her know how she may best help you!


    In her off time, Dr. Pyron enjoys a variety of outdoor and sports activities including soccer, softball, running, biking, mountain biking, strength training, yoga, swimming, and sailing.