(September 9, 2013) – Most people completely recover from a concussion, a mild traumatic brain injury caused by a direct blow to the head or a force that causes the head to move back and forth. But healing from an injury takes time, and concussion symptoms, including headache, sensitivity to light or sound, and problems with concentration, balance, memory, mood and sleep, can linger for weeks or even months. Experts say resuming physical activity before the brain has fully mended can lead to long-term cognitive impairment and may even be life-threatening.
To help members of the community who’ve had a concussion safely return to their normal activities, Inova Loudoun Hospital’s Head2Head Concussion Program offers comprehensive evaluation and rehabilitation services, all in one location. Expertly staffed by physicians, specialized therapists, nurse practitioners and registered dietitians, the concussion program provides a multidisciplinary approach to identifying signs of impairment and ensuring a thorough recovery.
“The goals of the care provided by the program are to intervene early, prevent re-injury, provide multidisciplinary therapy as indicated and monitor return to play/life, and thereby hopefully hasten recovery and prevent further injury, permanent disability and potentially death from repeat head injury,” says N. Yasmine Homeyer, MD, an emergency medical physician and Medical Director of the Inova Loudoun Hospital Concussion Program.
The Head2Head Concussion Program was launched in June 2011 in response to a need for an all-inclusive program in the community, says Clinical Coordinator
Anne Blackstone. “We knew we had a lot of young athletes and people of all ages who were having head injuries and they were not getting the proper care or education that they needed,” she says.
To inform the community about the impact of concussion, program representatives regularly meet with athletic trainers, athletes, parents and the general community about preventing head injury and the danger of returning to activities too soon following a concussion.
For individuals involved in school or community sports, the concussion program provides an affordable pre-season baseline assessment, including the ImPACT test (Immediate Post-concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) to evaluate an athlete’s brain function. The ImPACT test is a computerized neuropsychological screening tool that measures several aspects of cognitive functioning in athletes. “Ideally a patient would have a baseline test prior to an injury, but it can still be beneficial if there is not a baseline. It is beneficial in post-concussion injuries to help determine cognitive difficulties a patient may still be experiencing,” says Rebekah Jordan, NP-C, a nurse practitioner at Head2Head.
The Concussion Program also offers a comprehensive baseline assessment package which includes the ImPACT Neurocognitive test, as well as balance and oculomotor assessment for the most accurate representation of an individual’s pre-injury performance.
Making a Comeback
When you have a concussion, your brain needs time to recuperate. A complete recovery can take weeks or even months. Being physically active before your brain has properly healed can cause further impairment, so it’s important to seek medical help and get both physical and cognitive rest until your doctor gives you clearance to get back in the game. Here are some tips for optimum healing:
- Get plenty of rest the first 48–72 hours after injury, avoiding prolonged exposure to technology
- Skip activities that are physically challenging or require too much concentration
- Let someone else do the driving until your doctor gives you the green light
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