|Patrick Mularoni, MD|
When a patient has been diagnosed with concussion the treatment usually consists of rest for the brain from both cognitive and physical stress.
The brain suffers an injury on the cellular level during concussion and this injury heals through the normalization of the electrolyte balance in the brain environment. This process takes energy which occurs through both aerobic and anaerobic functions.
If the brain is stressed during the recovery period it can lead to worsening symptoms for the patient as stress on the brain requires energy that is being used to heal the cells that were injured.
When treating a patient the first and most important aspect of treatment is physical rest. A player should stop all training until they are symptom free.
This rest also includes cognitive rest. This aspect is often more difficult than physical rest because most athletes are students.
We ask students to limit time on computers because eye strain can worsen headaches associated with concussion. In addition, we ask teachers to limit the volume of schoolwork and ask that testing is avoided whenever possible.
By allowing the brain to have an environment of physical and cognitive rest, the majority of concussion symptoms will resolve and greater than 80% of athletes will be at their baseline in just two weeks.