Concussions are mild traumatic brain injuries that may be sustained from a blow to the head after a fall or an accident or during contact sports. While viewed by some athletes as something they can "play through," concussions are serious injuries that need to be treated appropriately. If someone who has a concussion sustains a second concussion before healing from the first concussion, additional brain injury may occur.
NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital features dedicated Concussion Clinics offering comprehensive evaluations, treatment of symptoms, and monitoring of patients to ensure that they heal completely before returning to their normal activities. Our staff includes neuropsychologists, neurologists, sports medicine specialists, neurosurgeons, physiatrists, and physical therapists who collaborate to assess and care for patients. They also provide consultations to local high school, college, and professional teams to assess the level of each concussion and to counsel athletes about the appropriate time to return to sports.
A concussion may cause cognitive problems (difficulty thinking clearly, concentrating, or remembering new information), headaches, blurred vision, nausea/vomiting, balance problems, irritability, and sleeping more or less than usual.
The diagnosis of a concussion has not been an exact science, and has been based largely on tests of attention, memory, vision, balance, and so forth. At NewYork-Presbyterian's Concussion Clinics, patients are fully evaluated with a complete physical and neurological examination. Patients may also undergo computerized neurocognitive testing, extended neuropsychological testing, and MRI scanning utilizing new imaging techniques to identify not just structural abnormalities of the brain, but also functional abnormalities. This testing can be performed to determine the severity of a concussion as well as to monitor a patient's recovery.
The best treatment for concussion is simply brain rest. Depending on the severity of the injury and the patient's age, recovery may take days or weeks. Younger patients take longer to heal than those who are older. Patients should avoid physically demanding activities and may also want to avoid sustained computer use (including computer/video games) early in the recovery process. NewYork-Presbyterian offers neuropsychological testing to monitor a patient's recovery.
NewYork-Presbyterian investigators are conducting research studies to evaluate new means of diagnosing and monitoring concussions. Such studies will help refine the care of patients with concussions and enhance our understanding of their effects on the body.