A concussion happens when someone sustains a hit to the head or a force to the body. By causing the brain and head to move quickly back and forth, it disrupts the balance of chemicals in the brain. Symptoms can include headache, vision changes, dizziness, nausea, difficulty concentrating or sleep changes. You don’t have to be “knocked out” to sustain a concussion. A health care provider diagnoses the condition.
Recovery from a concussion involves resting from physical activity—and often from cognitive, or “thinking,” activities, too. Health care providers may administer computerized tests to assess how the brain is healing and follow the patient’s progress. A concussion’s symptoms often resolve within a few weeks.
If you sustain a concussion, it’s very important to sit out of activities that put you at risk for hitting your head again. Time away from sports, gym class or other activities may be necessary. This allows the brain to heal properly. If you sustain a second concussion before healing from a first injury, you are at risk of a more severe concussion and longer-lasting symptoms. You’re also at risk of second impact syndrome. Although second impact syndrome is rare, there are cases in which people received severe brain injuries after a recent concussion. The reasons are not well understood, but the connection could be severe brain swelling or the loss of the brain’s ability to regulate its blood supply, which could lead to coma or death.
At Gillette, our team draws on the expertise of health care providers from rehabilitation medicine, neurosurgery, and neurology to carefully assess each injury. If symptoms persist, our therapists, psychologists, and neuropsychologists help with a plan and therapeutic interventions to reduce symptoms while enabling patients to return to school and re-engage in cognitive and physical activities. Our social work team works closely with the school team to smooth the transition. Our team rallies around each student or athlete to support their quickest return to full participation in school and activities.
Harom, et al. American Medical Society for Sports Medicine position statement: concussion in sport. Br J Sports Med (47); 15-26, 2013.
Angela Sinner, D.O., specializes in pediatric rehabilitation medicine with a special interest in spina bifida, neurotrauma, and spasticity management. She received her doctor of osteopathic medicine degree from Des Moines University’s College of Osteopathic Medicine in Des Moines, Iowa. She completed a physical medicine and rehabilitation residency at the University of Minnesota Medical School in Minneapolis, and then completed specialty training at Gillette Children's Specialty Healthcare through a fellowship in pediatric rehabilitation medicine.
She has made numerous professional presentations on topics including posterior fossa syndrome autonomic dysfunction in severe traumatic brain injury, and spinal cord injury evaluation. Her recent research has focused on intrathecal baclofen pump management as well as hypercalcemia incidence and treatment in spinal cord injury.