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After a Concussion

When you’ve sustained a concussion you may experience a variety of symptoms which are out of the ordinary for you.  These can be frustrating and hard to cope with.  The good news is that most symptoms will be gone or reduced significantly within a few weeks to a few months.  In the meantime there are some things you can do.

Common concussion symptoms include:

  • Headaches and dizziness
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Vision problems
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Poor balance
  • Speech and movements slower than normal
  • Poor memory and concentration
  • Slower thinking
  • Fatigue
  • Iritability, mood swings, and anxiety

How can I help my brain heal?

Taking it slow – your brain needs time to rest and heal.  You may need to limit your activities for a little while or take rests.

Don’t risk getting a second injury.  Physical exertion or a second head injury in a short time can delay healing and cause further damage.

Avoid too much stimulation.  Keep your surroundings as quiet as possible.

Avoid tasks that require a lot of concentration or focus for a little while.  You may need to take time off work.  This can also include reading, watching tv, spending time on the computer, or playing video games.

Gradually resume your activities as you feel better, but if you notice symptoms coming back, it’s a sign to go a little slower.

What can I do for now?

While you are experiencing difficulties you can utilize some tools to help you cope.  Just like you would use crutches for a broken leg, these things will reduce demands on your brain so it has time to heal.

Write things down!  A notebook or pocket calendar are handy for anyone, regardless of whether or not you’ve had a concussion.  Keeping them all in one place will help reduce guess work later (now where did I put that….)

Explain you have had a concussion and ask for help.  Others are more than happy to repeat things or provide follow up reminders if they understand your situation.

Reduce destractions around you – if you need to focus find a quiet place to do so.

When you need to work on something write out a plan first, including all the steps you need to complete along the way.  Check them off as you do them.

Tackle things in small chunks instead of all at once.

If you feel yourself getting upset or overwhelmed, stop and take a break.

Am I going crazy?

There are a number of symptoms of concussion which can make you feel concerned and anxious about the future.  Keep in mind that these symptoms will only exist for a period of time and that things will improve.  To help you can:

Stay connected and talk to your  friends and family.   Ask for help if you need it or just spend some time together and take your mind of the injury for a while.

Do deep breathing and relaxation exercises to achieve a sense of calm

Get as much sleep as you need.  You may find you need to rest during the day or take a short nap.

Be aware that alcohol and drugs (even caffeine) can affect you more severly than before your injury.  Your brain will heal best if you avoid them.

Make a list of the positive things going on in your life and what strategies you can use to help you out

Concussions have sometimes been linked to serious behaviour changes.  If you find yourself experiencing extreme sadness, anxiety, or thoughts of hurting yourself or others, it is important to speak with a healthcare professional as soon as possible.  It may be hard to talk about, but professionals will know how to help.

For more information on spotting the signs of a concussion and steps to returning to activity, please visit Online Concussion Resources.  If you haven’t already, visit our mild brain injury and concussion page for further information. You can also contact us for further support.