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Concussion Recovery Basics

Introduction (injured less than a month ago)

Updated Aug 2, 2019

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What is a Concussion?

A concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI), may be caused by a blow to the head or a jolt to the body, resulting in rapid movement of the brain inside the skull. Not every hard impact causes a concussion, but a concussion is suspected when the injury disrupts brain functioning, at least temporarily.

This disruption may or may not include a brief loss of consciousness. Other signs may include confusion or disorientation (e.g., not sure where you are) after the impact or an inability to remember what happened right after the injury (amnesia). Temporary problems with how the brain cells are communicating with each other are thought to cause these behaviour changes.

Overview acute skull

What is NOT a Concussion?

A loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 minutes , or confusion or amnesia lasting longer than 24 hours, may indicate a more severe traumatic brain injury, not concussion/mTBI. The information on this site is specific to concussion/mTBI and does not cover the management for a moderate or severe traumatic brain injury.

Recovery is Likely

Introduction under a month

Most people experience a full recovery and return to their pre-injury activities within a month or less. However, the speed of recovery can vary and may sometimes be slower. Your health care provider may ask you for more information to determine if you have risk factors that can increase the chance of a slower recovery, but no one will be able to tell you for certain exactly how long it will take.

Key Recovery Recommendations

Immediately after your injury, it is helpful to let your brain rest for a day or two. After this initial period of rest, research suggests that gradually returning to activities “as tolerated” is the best approach for optimal recovery.

MyGuide: Concussion covers the following key recommendations for concussion recovery in more detail:

  1. Managing stress.
  2. Promoting healthy sleep patterns.
  3. Avoiding alcohol and recreational drugs.
  4. Taking steps to actively manage your symptoms.
  5. Gradually returning to activities as tolerated.
  6. Looking after your general wellness.
  7. Reducing risk of a second injury.

The next article in this introduction reviews common symptoms after a concussion.

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