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Infographic: Concussions are Treatable, but How?

Different concussions can have different symptoms and treatment plans. Follow along to understand what is typically associated with each.


1. A mil traumatic brain injury (mTBI) caused by a jolt to the head or body that disrupts the function of the brain.

Patients can experience more than one type of concussion. The clinical outcome of a concussion can be greatly improved by being correctly diagnosed and having a treatment plan individually designed for the patient.

Researchers at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program have identified six primary clinical profiles, or trajectories, that a concussion may take. Let’s take a look at what symptoms and treatment methods are typically associated with each.

Symptoms: Difficulty with balance, trouble stabilizing vision when moving the head, poor hand-eye coordination
Treatment: Vestibular rehabilitation customized to suit various environments (i.e. work or school) that the patient may encounter

Symptoms: Difficult coordinating eye movements; headache, fatigue, and difficulty focusing vision
Treatment: A neuro-optometrist may recommend vision therapy and vestibular therapy

Symptoms: Decreased ability to concentrate or multitask; difficulty learning new information; poor memory; increase in fatigue
Treatment: Academic and workplace accommodations (i.e. breaks, workload reduction); strict sleep, diet, hydration, stress management, and exercise regulations; medication may be prescribed

Post-traumatic Migraine
Symptoms: Headache, nausea, and sensitivity to light or noise
Treatment: Strict behavioral management, with an emphasis on regular sleep; proper hydration, diet, stress management, and some physical activity; medication may be prescribed

Symptoms: Headaches and neck pain
Treatment: Mobilization techniques and posture correction exercises; biofeedback to train patients to control their body’s function with their mind; pain reduction medication

Symptoms: Excessive anxiety or significant irritability
Treatment: Exertion therapy; a prescribed daily exercise plan

Video: Chelsea Shares Her Concussion Story

Watch Chelsea explain her journey to recovery after sustaining a concussion during a soccer game. The experts at the UPMC Sports Medicine Concussion Program were able to help her get the treatment she needed.

Read the full transcript from Chelsea’s concussion story:

Jim: I was coaching the game that day and I saw Chelsea go down.

Chelsea: I ended up getting kicked in the head twice whenever people were trying to kick the ball. After I got kicked, I started getting really confused, and I was in shock mode.

Jim: I was in a state of shock, too, you know, for a moment until I took a second to realize, you know, oh my goodness, you know, I need to go get her. She needs help. She really couldn’t tell me what was going on, but I knew that something was wrong.

Chelsea: I felt nauseous, and whenever I couldn’t see very well, I had double vision and blurry vision, too. I had really, really, really painful headaches.

Jim: The folks at Children’s Hospital officially diagnosed her with a concussion, um, and, you know, they talked to us about the UPMC Concussion Program and they made a strong recommendation that that’s where we want to take her to be seen. When my wife and I met with Dr. Collins, the first thing I can tell you is I felt at ease the second he looked us in the eye and he said, “Your daughter is going to be okay.” I mean, to hear that right out of a professional’s mouth is probably the most amazing thing you can hear in the world, and at that point, you kind of just give your trust over to him and say, “Whatever you want us to do, that’s what we’re going to do.”

Chelsea: Every single time I went to see him, he, he explained, like, that I was going to get better in no time and that, and he explained to me, like, what was wrong and he told me though that I can, that he can fix it.

Jim: You could really start to get a sense of what they were trying to do with her and the fact that they were trying to, you know, have her push her limits the, to the point where, you know, she would start to feel the symptoms, and then they’d back her away, and it was always about her.

Chelsea: Every week, my therapist had me do different exercises and she would wait until I would get nauseous, and every single week, I can do them longer and longer. The day that I wasn’t nauseous, it made me feel so happy because I could do soccer and swimming again.

Jim: I think we’re lucky that, you know, we had access to UPMC and the team at the Concussion Program.

Chelsea: I would want other kids to know that they could get treated and feel better, too.

To learn more about our patients, read their stories.