Do…..Get assessed by a doctor.
Get assessed by a doctor, ideally within 24-72 hours. While many signs and symptoms that come on immediately after a concussion are transient and will resolve within minutes or hours, there are some that can begin hours or days later. Its important to get assessed by a doctor before returning to work, school or play, or before starting physiotherapy or massage.
Sleep it off! It’s a good idea for the first 24 hours to have someone wake you every 4 hours to check how you’re feeling and to screen for any new symptoms that might have developed since your injury. But, for the days that follow, sleep when you need to sleep. Just make sure that any day time napping is kept to short intervals (i.e. no longer than 45 minutes). Sleep irregularities can be common after a concussion, so you want to make sure that you don’t oversleep during the day.
Drink alcohol or take any NSAIDS for the first week or so. They can mask or worsen signs and symptoms that are important to monitor while you are initially recovering.
Spend days on end sitting in a dark, quiet room by yourself. If you need to, avoid bright lights, cell phones, computers and TVs for the first 24-48 hours ONLY. After that time, you can return to some of these activities, in short bursts.
Do….Use a timer.
Use a timer! A timer can be useful to determine what your tolerance for activity is after a concussion. For example, start a timer when you begin your activity (walking, reading, tv etc.) and note when any symptoms are produced or worsened. Note the length of time it took for that to occur. After your symptoms have improved with a rest break, return to that activity for a shorter time interval (i.e. if your symptoms came on with 20 minutes of reading, limit your next reading session to 15 mins).
Ask your doctor to refer you to physiotherapy. While most adults will recover completely within the first 10 days after sustaining a concussion, about 25% continue to have symptoms. Many times, these symptoms can be caused by a mechanical problem in your neck, difficulty processing visual information, a problem with your vestibular system (inner ear balance mechanism), or problems regulating your heart rate and blood pressure. A physiotherapist with experience treating concussion, can help determine what might be the leading cause and start you back on the path to recovery.