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Concussion Recovery Basics

Introduction (injured over a month ago)

Updated Aug 2, 2019

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What is 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 the brain’s functioning, at least temporarily.

Overview acute skull

Initial Signs of Concussion

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.

Confusion or amnesia lasting longer than 24 hours, or a loss of consciousness longer than 30 minutes, 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 Pace Can Vary

Not everyone who has a concussion will experience the same symptoms or pace of recovery. Most people return to their pre-injury functioning. A small group of people experience prolonged symptoms that may benefit from ongoing self-management. Your health care provider may ask you for more information to assess risk factors that can increase the chance of a slower recovery, but no one will be able to tell you exactly how long it will take.

Introduction over a month ago

Managing Symptoms Can Help Recovery

It will be important to work with your health care providers to address your symptom management. Over time, different problems, such as sleep difficulties, stress, changes in mood, headaches, or pain can interact to keep each other going. Work with your family doctor to identify which symptoms areas may be best to focus on for treat. Treatments that worked for one person may not be the solution for someone else.

Managing symptoms can help recovery

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 the risk of a second injury

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

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