Recovery & Support for Concussion
Some people who’ve had a concussion—which is a mild form of a traumatic brain injury often caused by a blow to the head or shaking of the brain inside the skull—feel better within a few hours of the injury. Others may have symptoms for weeks or months.
Because the brain is more sensitive to damage after a concussion, it is important to avoid activities that might cause another injury. NYU Langone doctors can provide guidelines for safely resuming regular activities, such as playing sports, going to school or work, and driving a car.
There are a variety of ways to improve your chances of a full recovery and to prevent another concussion. Our doctors may advise the following:
- Get plenty of physical and mental rest.
- Slowly return to your regular activities. If symptoms return as you are adding activities to your daily routine, stop and rest for a day.
- Avoid alcohol, which affects brain function.
- Wear a helmet for cycling, snow sports, skateboarding, riding a scooter or motorcycle, or any similar activities.
- Wear a seatbelt when riding in a car.
- Write down important information if you are having memory problems.
If you follow your doctor’s advice but believe your symptoms are worsening, your doctor may recommend a follow-up visit and an exam.
You can expect to follow up with your doctor at NYU Langone’s Concussion Center in the weeks after a head injury. Your doctor typically meets with you one week after the injury to evaluate symptoms and brain function and to address your concerns as you recover. If your symptoms persist or worsen, ongoing support may be needed to prevent additional complications.
Sometimes people who have had a concussion begin to show changes in behavior or personality, even after the first few weeks of recovery. These are related to the trauma to the brain and, though alarming, often improve or resolve without treatment.
These changes can be difficult for family, friends, and coworkers to understand. The Concussion Center’s experts can help both you and your family to cope with the short- and long-term effects of concussion.
Concussion and Sports
Studies show that children and teenagers are even more vulnerable to concussion than people in other age groups, and they take longer to recover. If a child returns to playing sports before his or her brain has had enough time to heal, an additional blow to the head could have more serious, long-term consequences.
Our experts, who treat children at the Concussion Center through Hassenfeld Children’s Hospital of New York, evaluate young athletes and can recommend specific, gradual increases in activity until a person is ready to return to full-contact play.
Our doctors also educate coaches, athletic trainers, and parents on the signs and symptoms of concussion in order to promote prevention and the timely identification of head injuries.
Brain Injury Rehabilitation
For those with persistent cognitive or physical difficulties, rehabilitation services are available on an outpatient basis at NYU Langone. Rusk’s Brain Injury Rehabilitation Program helps people with these types of injuries to improve strength, coordination, balance, endurance, attention, problem solving, and other everyday skills.
Depending on each person’s needs, this program may include sessions with physical or occupational therapists, speech language pathologists, social workers, vision therapists, or psychologists. Therapy may be provided individually or in groups, depending on your needs.
To treat dizziness or imbalance, your doctor may recommend vestibular therapy, a form of physical therapy that enhances your body’s natural ability to compensate for balance problems. Rusk’s Vestibular Rehabilitation Program, the first of its kind in the tri-state area, offers balance retraining through specific exercises as well as sensory organization training, gaze stabilization exercises, and aerobic conditioning.
If you have visual impairment or difficulties, your doctor may prescribe vision therapy. This can help to address vision problems that may be exacerbating other symptoms, such as headaches, or making it difficult to read or use the computer.
For people 18 to 65 years old who have more severe traumatic brain injuries with substantial cognitive dysfunction and sufficient stamina to handle a five-hour treatment day, the Brain Injury Day Treatment Program offers a 20-week course that incorporates family members into the rehabilitation process. The program provides a safe, structured environment for people with brain injuries to learn new skills.
It also offers peer support to encourage participants to modify challenging behaviors, practice new compensatory skills, and develop realistic expectations for their progress. The involvement of family members helps people with brain injuries to transfer the strategies learned into their everyday lives.