BASELINE TESTING | The first, and by far the most important step in properly managing concussions comes before the injury happens. Actually, before the season even starts! A “baseline test” is a test that is done BEFORE a concussion happens.
The purpose of a baseline test is to measure every area of brain function which could become affected following a concussion. This way, if an athlete does get a concussion, we can compare their post-injury state to their baseline parameters to help make an accurate diagnosis, as well as to establish when they are fully healthy and are safe to return to their sport. Without these baseline parameters we have no way of determining when the brain has fully recovered.
CONCUSSION REHABILITATION | Rest is extremely important immediately after injury. A concussion is essentially an energy deficit inside the brain, complete with ion imbalances and blood flow abnormalities. Rest has two very important features when it comes to concussion. First, it keeps the athlete from putting themselves in harms way until they have recovered sufficiently to avoid a devastating second injury. Secondly, rest allows the athlete to get a jump-start on their recovery so that all available energy is allocated to helping recover imbalanced brain cells.
The general consensus within the research and medical community is, anything that could potentially use energy, such as mental stimulation or concentration as well as physical exercise, will in-turn delay recovery! Therefore, COMPLETE PHYSICAL and COGNITIVE REST is prescribed during the initial recovery period. This means: no school, no homework, no texting, no computer/video games, no television, no physical activity. The next stages of rehabilitation involves a gradual return, first to cognitive activity and then a gradual increase in physical activity, with each stage separated by a period of at least 24 hours without symptoms.