How Long Do Concussion Symptoms Last?

Mar 20, 2022

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Concussions are perhaps the most common form of brain damage worldwide. Millions of concussions are reported in the United States every year from sports alone, and they seem to be an inevitability in full-contact sports such as football. Career athletes tend to feel especially restless about recovery times, but anyone who suffers a concussion may be tempted to return to life as normal sooner than they should if not educated well enough. Here at AICA Conyers, we want to educate the public on how long you can expect to stay benched from a concussion and what could happen if you don’t wait long enough to return.

What Is a Concussion?

Seeing as concussions are somewhat misunderstood in the United States, it’s important to establish what a concussion is before talking about what the consequences of one could be. A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) induced by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or a body strike that causes the head and brain to swing back and forth rapidly. The brain can bounce around or twist in the skull as a result of this abrupt movement, causing chemical changes in the brain as well as straining and injuring brain cells.
Because concussions are rarely life-threatening, medical practitioners may refer to them as “mild” brain injuries. Don’t be fooled, though: concussions can have major consequences, ranging from a permanent decline in cognitive function to even death if poorly treated.

Symptoms of a Concussion

A concussion isn’t always characterized by a period of unconsciousness, and careful observation of the individual is required to determine the likelihood of a concussion, as they will likely be too disorientated to self-report symptoms. With that in mind, there are a few consistent symptoms to watch for—namely, an overwhelming sense of confusion. An individual with a concussion will probably appear dazed and will be slow to respond to interactions with others. Their motor skills will also be hampered as a result of dizziness, resulting in an increase in clumsiness. Most concerning, however, is a sense of forgetfulness. They may not remember events that happened just prior to the concussion or events happening shortly after. Physical symptoms will likely include headaches, nausea, and distortions in vision.

These and other symptoms and signs usually appear immediately after an injury. However, you may not realize the severity of the injury at first, and some symptoms may take hours or days to appear. For example, the patient may only appear confused or dazed in the initial few minutes following the impact, but an hour later, they may be unable to recall how they were injured.

How Long Will My Recovery Take?

With proper medical care, a concussion may be resolved in around 7-10 days on average, though some cases can take over a month to resolve. However, children and adolescents will likely take longer than this to fully recover. There are also certain pre-existing factors that may lead to longer recovery times, such as a prior history of headaches. Your recovery time is non-negotiable. Since a concussion is a brain injury, mild or not, it will affect your entire existence until it is resolved, and any interruptions to the healing process can risk permanent brain damage.

With any brain injury, it’s best to consult a doctor about a recovery plan that’s right for you. However, you can generally expect yours to look like this.

Rest

For the first few days after a concussion, you should limit all activity, mental and physical. Bedrest is very important, but so is keeping your brain from thinking too hard, as you could actually damage it in this state by doing so. Most importantly, make sure lots of healthy sleep is had, as sleep is an important function in healthy brain function as a whole. Napping throughout the day is also encouraged.

Light Activity

As your recovery progresses, you can start to introduce light physical and mental activities back into your schedule. Heavy emphasis on “light”: these activities should involve as little risk of head injury as possible and shouldn’t involve any strenuous exercise. Mentally, you can also try returning to a normal amount of cognitive exercise, but if you’re finding an excess of difficulty in doing so, cut back until you’re up for the task.

Moderate Activity

At this point, you’re almost ready to go back to life as normal, but strenuous exercise should only be done with a doctor’s approval. If concussion symptoms flare up or worsen, then you should immediately cut back and go into a more intense recovery state in order to avoid re-injury. Once symptoms fade entirely, you may return to your regular activities.

Potential Consequences of a Concussion

As stated before, a lack of proper care for a concussion can have severe consequences. A concussion cannot be “toughed out,” so to speak, and proper recovery is vital for ensuring that your risk for further issues stays as low as possible. Unfortunately, the long-term effects of concussions are still not well-known due to a lack of reporting, study, and understanding, but we do know that sometimes concussion symptoms can persist indefinitely. This is referred to as post-concussion syndrome and tends to also include symptoms like fatigue, irritability, anxiety, blurred vision, tinnitus (ringing in the ears), insomnia, loss of concentration and memory, and sensitivity to noise and light.

There is also the rare but very possible occurrence of second hit syndrome, which occurs when a patient receives another head injury while the concussion is healing. Even a mild head injury can cause massive brain swelling, swiftly killing a patient. One unfortunate case that received public attention in recent years was the case of 17-year-old Rowan Stringer, whose tragic death inspired new youth sports regulations in Canada regarding concussion awareness and intervention.

At AICA Conyers, we believe that gentle chiropractic treatment can be used to treat the headaches and migraines that may result from a concussion. Consider visiting our clinic today, o we may help you clear your head.

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