If you notice symptoms after a concussion, it’s best not to wait to seek treatment. If you’re the type to “wait it out” and see if things get better, then we recommend waiting no longer than three months. After that, it is very unlikely your symptoms will improve, so it makes sense to pursue active rehabilitation of concussion and post-concussion syndrome (especially if those symptoms interfere with your everyday life).
The medical community can be painfully slow to adopt best practices, and concussion care is no exception. Many doctors and clinics recommend “cocooning” — i.e., rest and inactivity in a dark room until symptoms disappear — even though research shows that is not the best way to treat a concussion.
If you’re like the majority of people who have had a concussion, then you likely recovered a few weeks afterward and have felt fine ever since then. But not everyone is that fortunate. Some people do not recover with normal “rest” protocol after a concussion. And even if you do recover and walk away with no long-term symptoms, it isn’t without consequence: You will always be more susceptible to another concussion than someone who hasn’t had one, particularly during the first year after your concussion.
If you visit a healthcare professional for a concussion, you’ll probably be told to lie down in a dark room until all your symptoms go away. If you get any other advice, it’s usually just another way of saying, “Rest.” But in most cases, that’s not the best way to treat a concussion. And in our experience treating hundreds of patients, many of whom have had symptoms that lasted for months or years, we know that it can be frustratingly ineffective.
Concussion symptoms can be confusing. They don’t always show up right away, they can come and go, and they don’t always go away without extra therapy. We treat concussion patients every day and answer these questions for our patients regularly. That’s why we’ve put together a guide to concussion symptoms, including:
About a year ago I did an interview over the phone with a sports-talk radio show in Texas. The topic was concussion in high school football (Texas is all about high school football). I talked about treatment for long-term concussion effects and how new therapies are available that can be extremely effective. I also mentioned research that shows treatment effectiveness even when the concussion (or concussions) happened years earlier.