Questions to Ask Your Doctor about Concussions
After sustaining a concussion, patients and their families understandably are going to have a lot of questions. There is often concern and fear about what a concussion means with regard to its immediate effects. Here are some questions one should discuss with their doctor in order to get more clarity on their unique concussion.
How long will my recovery take?
Just as every concussion is unique, so too is every recovery. Recovery is often dependent upon one’s ability to follow the treatment plan closely. Regulating behavior to ensure adequate sleep, nutrition, hydration, and stress management typically helps, as does compliance with any home physical therapy plan. However, at the end of the day, each person will recover at a different pace.
Can I sleep normally?
It’s recommended that one follow a regulated sleep schedule with a similar sleep time and wake time each day. Not doing so has been shown to lead to fatigue, headache, and emotional distress. Avoid naps unless napping was a part of your typical schedule prior to injury. Naps can cause problems falling asleep and lead to poor quality sleep that will prolong one’s recovery. The brain needs adequate sleep in order to heal appropriately.
Can I go to school or work?
The answer is different for each individual based on his or her current symptoms. In general, most people will miss a few days of school or work initially, but will be return to work relatively quickly. While one might not return on a full-time basis right away, it’s important to return to those environments early. The patient will likely need individualized accommodations to help control some of the environmental stimuli, such as bright lights, loud noises, and crowded hallways.
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Am I still allowed to do physical activity?
The answer is different for each individual based on his or her current symptoms and treatment plan. In general, thirty minutes of physical activity is recommended per day. This may be a leisurely walk or a slow ride on a stationary bike in the beginning. As the patient progresses in his or her recovery, more dynamic movement will be introduced.
What activities do I need to avoid?
In general, it is recommend that patients avoid any activity that poses risk of re-injury while still recovering from a concussion, as it takes less force to reinjure an already concussed brain.
Can I still drive?
Driving is a complex activity requiring visual, manual, and cognitive efficiency. If any of these areas are compromised due to concussion, it is recommended that the person not drive unless absolutely necessary. This is determined on an individualized basis.
What are the long-term consequences of my injury?
Most current data that cites long-term consequences was published before comprehensive evaluation and management of concussions was instituted. However, it is believed that active management of concussion should decrease one’s chances of repeated injury or long-term consequences.