"The take-home message is that of variability in terms of number and
severity of symptoms. It can be very different from person to person.
"In other cases, people feel fine and are unaware of deficits in neurological
function. Sometimes it's only after examination or testing that we
know the brain hasn't fully recovered."
The treatments available for concussion has evolved in recent times and
gone are the days that waiting for injury to sort itself out, have now gone.
Dr. Williams continued: "Treatments used to be limited to 'watchful
waiting'—essentially waiting for symptoms to improve/resolve.
"Concussion management is evolving/changing and now involves aggressive
management of symptoms (treatment for headaches, neck pain, etc., targeted
and symptom-specific therapy for balance/dizziness, and/or visual symptoms,
optimizing sleep, quieting the autonomic system with meditation and breath
work exercises, and controlled exertion/exercise as a prescription for
hastening brain recovery).
"In addition, there's increasing interest and use of various neuromodulation
techniques— such as transcranial magnetic Stimulation to facilitate
brain recovery after concussion."
When returning to play in a collision sport, there are a number of indicators
to look out for that could show that an athlete has not fully recovered,
despite tests showing they are fit and well enough to step back onto the
field of play.
Dr. Williams continued: "Concussion can manifest in multiple ways.
Sometimes, recovery is faster for some symptoms than for others. Any athlete
who suffers a concussion should be mindful of improvement/recovery in
all of their symptoms.
"We expect this and it happens for most people. But persistence of
some symptoms doesn't mean they have a 'new normal.' The most
exciting thing we're learning regarding the brain is that the brain
can change. Even after significant injury, it can recover and improve.
"We call it neuroplasticity. And it involves the ability to reinforce
connections and increase communication/activity for improved function.
It can be done through training and various kinds of neuromodulation."