Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This movement can stretch and damage brain cells and create chemical changes in the brain.
While concussions are described as “mild” TBIs, they can have debilitating effects on a person physically, cognitively, and emotionally.
Who should I tell about a concussion?
Immediately following a concussion, it is recommended you reach out to your primary care physician (PCP). Your medical provider can provide an assessment, recommend concussion providers based on presenting symptoms, and develop a list of recommendations for rest and a gradual return to play, school, and/or work activities. If you notice any worsening or concerning symptoms following a concussion, do not wait to see your PCP; call 9-1-1 or take your child to the emergency department.
If your child is school-aged, reaching out to the school nurse is an important next step. The school nurse will be a key player in implementing your PCP's recommendations, monitoring your child's symptoms in school, and communicating with their teachers. For student-athletes, be sure to communicate with the athletic director and coaches as well.
When should I seek treatment from a concussion provider?
While most people fully recover from a concussion within 7-14 days, some people experience the persistence of physical, academic, and social challenges after several weeks. Young people are at the highest risk for persistent problems with a large percentage of students requiring accommodations in school.
Beginning therapy with a skilled concussion provider within the acute concussion phase (i.e. 0-14 days post concussion) is essential in reducing the amount of persistent symptoms. A multi-disciplinary team with academic, medical, cognitive, emotional, and vestibular support is ideal to manage persistent symptoms.
How can an SLP support my concussion recovery?
Speech-Language Pathologists (SLPs) can help treat and manage changes in your thinking following a concussion with cognitive therapy.
Cognitive therapy teaches you strategies to improve your attention, memory, planning, and organization. You'll learn helpful supports to compensate for changes in your thinking, practice ways to identify and self-monitor your symptoms, and deepen your understanding of your head injury and what is needed for your brain to heal during the recovery process.
Who is a good candidate for cognitive therapy?
Consider reaching out to an SLP specializing in cognitive therapy if you are experiencing any of the following symptoms:
Trouble paying attention or concentrating
Difficulty remembering or learning new information
Longer time needed to complete tasks or assignments
Complaints of "brain fog"
Difficulty making decisions
Trouble planning, prioritizing, and organizing
Difficutly keeping track of assignments
Mental or cognitive fatigue
Decline in school or job performance
Jenny Traver, MS, CCC-SLP, CBIS
Reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org to learn more about cognitive therapy and if it could play a role in your concussion recovery journey.