The University of Kansas Health System

Concussion Care

Concussion management

Concussions are a type of brain injury and must be carefully managed for the best recovery. Our trained medical concussion specialists tailor each patient’s care plan to fit their needs.

A concussion needs time to heal. Management of the condition depends on the level of severity and may include these steps for the patient:

  • Rest your mind. Provide adequate time for brain recovery. Avoid computer use, texting and returning to school, work or activities too quickly.
  • Prevent re-injury. Avoid activities that might jolt or jar your head. Never return to a sports activity until your doctor has given you clearance. Ask when it’s safe to drive a car, ride a bike, work or play at heights, or use heavy equipment.
  • Ask a responsible adult to observe you. Ask this person to watch for any worsening or new symptoms for 3-4 weeks after the concussion.
  • Do not take medicines without your doctor’s permission. This is especially true for aspirin, blood thinners and drugs that cause drowsiness. Avoid the use of alcohol or recreational drugs.
  • Eat nutritious foods and drink plenty of water. Your brain needs energy to heal. Rest your body. You should get at least 7-8 hours of sleep each night.
  • Consult with our specialists to ensure a comprehensive approach to recovery.

Recovery

Recovery from a concussion is key to long-term brain health. Those who are not fully recovered from a concussion are significantly at risk for repeated, cumulative and even catastrophic consequences of a second concussion. The best way to manage and recover from a concussion is to seek treatment promptly from a trained medical concussion specialist.

Assessment and testing

Our concussion specialists use a computerized concussion evaluation tool to help with recovery and returning to activities. The tool is called ImPACT®, which stands for immediate postconcussion assessment and cognitive testing. The test measures attention span, memory, problem solving and reaction times. It also provides baseline testing before a concussion for afterinjury comparisons.

Return-to-play guidelines for athletes

Our concussion specialists recommend that all athletes follow these guidelines before returning to play after a concussion:

  • No return to play in the current game following signs and symptoms of a concussion
  • Physician evaluation following the injury
  • Ruling out a more serious injury and preventing any possible complications
  • Gradual return to school and work, with accommodations as needed
  • Gradual return to sports competition
  • Athlete, coach and parent education about concussion management and prevention

Concussion signs and symptoms

Signs observed
  • Appears to be dazed or stunned
  • Confused about tasks or assignments
  • Forgets plans or plays
  • Unsure of situation details, like the score of a game
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even temporarily)
  • Shows behavior or personality changes
  • Forgets events prior to the hit (retrograde amnesia)
  • Forgets events after the hit (anterograde amnesia)

Signs/symptoms reported

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or fuzzy vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling sluggish
  • Feeling foggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Change in sleep patterns in days after injury