Concussions are the most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). A blow to the head that affects the brain could impact the victim in a number of ways, physically and psychologically. Even a minor concussion could cause debilitating symptoms. Many physicians say there is no such thing as a minor brain injury. After a concussion of any severity, the steps you take to recover can make a difference in your prognosis. While each case is unique, here are general steps one should take after suffering a concussion.
Go to the Hospital
Before you can treat your concussion, you need an official diagnosis. After any type of blow, bump, or jolt to the head, go to the hospital for a checkup. It does not matter if you experience symptoms or not. Concussions often have delayed symptoms that might not appear for hours or days after your injury. Symptoms or not, seek medical attention if you hit your head. A lot could be going on under the surface of your skull that requires medical care, even if you don’t notice any outward symptoms.
Follow Your Physician’s Instructions
Physicians and scientists still don’t fully understand how brain injuries work. Some patients make miraculous recoveries while others suffer lifelong symptoms without improvement. It is always in your best interest after suffering a concussion to listen carefully to your doctor’s orders. Although concussions are only minor TBIs, they can worsen if you don’t let your brain rest and recuperate. Generally, concussion treatments will include avoiding physical activities and difficult cognitive tasks for a time.
Rest Your Brain
There is no cure for concussions other than giving your brain time to rest and heal. Cessation from physical activities such as sports is important to prevent additional injuries such as second-impact syndrome. However, cognitive rest is just as important to help heal your brain. Achieve cognitive rest by avoiding any activities that tax you mentally. Stay away from demanding cognitive processes such as remembering things, testing your reactions, or multitasking. Let your brain conserve energy and restore cerebral blood flow for the fastest recovery from a concussion.
While your brain heals, you may find that certain things trigger painful or uncomfortable symptoms from your concussion. Loud noises, bright lights, or stress might all cause flare-ups in symptoms such as headaches, nausea, dizziness, blurred vision, or irritability. Do what you can to avoid triggers during recovery and make your rest periods as peaceful as possible for optimal results. Triggers are not only painful but can also harm your recovery.
Get Plenty of Sleep
Your body and brain need plenty of sleep to fully recover from a concussion. Sleep allows your brain to restore itself and recover from damage. Failing to get enough sleep can strain your brain and aggravate your symptoms. Take frequent breaks from school or work and get enough sleep every night. If necessary, take short naps during the day if you feel tired. Minimize distractions while trying to doze off for full, deep sleep. Check back in with your doctor if you notice any unusual changes in your condition.