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The Immediate Steps to Take After a Concussion

Recognizing and responding promptly to a concussion is crucial for minimizing its impact and supporting a full recovery. Concussions, while often termed “mild” brain injuries, can have serious health implications if not properly managed. At Revivo, our physiotherapy and neurology clinic in Toronto, we emphasize the importance of taking immediate and appropriate actions following a concussion. Here, we outline the essential steps to take if you or someone you know sustains a concussion.

Step 1: Remove from Activity

The first and most crucial step after a suspected concussion is to stop any activity that led to the injury. Continuing physical exertion can exacerbate symptoms and potentially worsen the injury.

Step 2: Seek Medical Attention

Even if symptoms seem mild, it’s important to get evaluated by a healthcare professional as soon as possible. They can assess the severity of the injury and provide guidance on the next steps for care and recovery. This may include a physical examination, cognitive tests, and, in some cases, imaging studies like a CT scan or MRI to rule out more severe injuries.

Step 3: Rest and Recovery

In the initial 24-48 hours after a concussion, physical and cognitive rest is key. This means avoiding activities that require mental concentration and physical effort, as they can increase symptoms and delay recovery. Rest includes limiting screen time, reading, and even some types of school or work activities that can strain the brain.

Step 4: Gradual Return to Activities

Following a period of rest, activities should be gradually resumed, guided by symptom tolerance. This “graded return” approach should be customized for each individual based on their recovery progress, under the guidance of healthcare professionals. The goal is to increase activity levels without exacerbating symptoms.

Step 5: Monitor Symptoms

Keep a close eye on symptoms in the days and weeks following the injury. Any increase in symptoms or the appearance of new symptoms should prompt a return to the healthcare provider. This monitoring is crucial, as it helps to adjust the pace of return to daily activities and ensure that the brain is healing properly.

Step 6: Avoid Risky Activities

Until fully recovered and cleared by a healthcare professional, avoid activities that could result in another concussion. A second concussion before the first one has fully healed can lead to more severe brain injury and prolonged recovery times.

Step 7: Implement Strategies to Support Recovery

Various strategies can support recovery from a concussion, including hydration, nutrition, and, once symptom severity decreases, gentle, non-strenuous physical activity like walking. Each of these can contribute positively to the healing process.

Step 8: Educate Yourself and Others

Understanding concussions and their potential impact is important not just for those who have experienced the injury but also for family members, friends, coaches, and educators. Education can foster a supportive environment that prioritizes the health and safety of the individual.

Conclusion

Taking immediate and appropriate action after a concussion can significantly influence the recovery outcome. At Revivo, we are dedicated to providing our patients with the support and expert care needed to navigate the post-concussion period effectively. By following these steps and working closely with healthcare professionals, individuals can make informed decisions that contribute to a full and safe recovery from a concussion.

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