Ohio State has specialized neurological experts and services immediately available to handle all brain injuries.

A concussion is a type of brain injury. It’s the most minor form. Technically, a concussion is a short loss of normal brain function in response to a head injury. But people often use it to describe any minor injury to the head or brain.

Concussions are a common type of sports injury. You can also have one if you suffer a blow to the head or hit your head during a fall. Although concussions during organized sports receive a great deal of attention, more than 90 percent of concussions occur during everyday activities.

Symptoms of a concussion are varied and may not start right away; they may start days or weeks after the injury. Symptoms may include a headache or neck pain. You may also have nausea, ringing in your ears, dizziness or tiredness. You may feel dazed or not your normal self for several days or weeks after the injury. Consult your healthcare professional if any of your symptoms get worse or if you have more serious symptoms such as:

  • Seizures
  • Trouble walking or sleeping
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech

Doctors use injury history details and a neurologic exam to diagnose a concussion. Most people recover fully after a concussion, but it can take some time. Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal.

Source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Why choose Ohio State for treatment of concussion?

Breadth of Neurological Services: As a Level I – the highest level – trauma service center, The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center has specialized neurological experts and services immediately available to handle a breadth of traumatic brain injuries, from mild to severe.

Neuro Intensive Care: Our fellowship-trained neuro intensivists offer a level of care unmatched in central Ohio for managing swelling of the brain and other complications of traumatic brain injuries.

Advanced Neuroimaging: We use cutting-edge neuro metabolic imaging to determine severity of concussion or brain injury. Information gathered by neuro metabolic imaging, including positron emission tomography (PET) scans and functional magnetic resonance imaging (fMRI) scans, can significantly increase our ability to detect the extent of your injury, thus guiding long-term treatment plans. We also routinely use computed tomography (CT) and MRI scans in the early stages to assess for swelling and bleeding in the brain.

Sports Medicine Concussion ClinicOhio State has a specialized concussion clinic devoted entirely to the evaluation and treatment of concussions in both children and adults. We not only provide initial evaluation and care but also expert attention for post-concussive syndrome, defined by concussion symptoms that persist beyond two weeks.  


Diagnosis

Diagnosing Concussion

To evaluate your concussion, we use standardized assessment tools such as the ImPACT test and the third edition of the Sport Concussion Assessment Tool (SCAT3), which tests memory, concentration, recall, balance and coordination, in our initial and follow-up evaluations.

If concussion symptoms linger for more than a day, we can evaluate you at our Sports Medicine Concussion Clinic. We offer children and adults:

  • Availability to see you within 24-48 hours
  • Concussion evaluation and management by physicians who specialize in head trauma
  • Evaluation, management of the injury and individualized rehabilitation for safe return to sport, work and academics
  • The convenience of evaluation, testing and imaging in one location

At your initial visit, we will obtain a complete history and conduct a physical exam. We use assessment tools, including:

  • ImPACT Neuropsychological Testing: This is a computer software tool that helps providers examine symptoms, conditions and brain functions including memory, attention, how quickly you process information, reaction time and orientation. ImPACT takes approximately 20 to 30 minutes to complete.
  • Balance Testing/Posturography: We perform assessment of your somatosensory (ability to determine touch, temperature and your body’s position in space), visual (ability to see movement) and vestibular (ability to balance or maintain equilibrium) systems. People with concussion have difficultly integrating information from these three components of the balance mechanism. This Modified Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) takes approximately five minutes. 

Treatment

Treating Concussion

Physical rest and cognitive rest (taking a break from thinking and problem-solving) are part of the healing process. We encourage you to use your brain as little as possible for about two weeks after your concussion, which means limiting home, school and work activities and the use of any form of digital media. Your brain needs time to heal itself. We will provide school/work recommendations, appropriate paperwork for return to school, work and play and follow-up with other physicians who oversee your care.

Whether your head injury is mild or severe, we have a team of experts implementing your personalized treatment plan. Our specialists include:

  • Physical medicine and rehabilitation physicians or physiatrists, who specialize in helping people regain body functions lost due to medical conditions or injuries
  • Neurologists, who specialize in disorders of the nervous system
  • Neurosurgeons, who specialize in surgery on the brain and other parts of the nervous system
  • Neuropsychologists, who specialize in the effects that injury to or diseases of the brain and spinal cord have on emotions, behavior and learning
  • Certified rehabilitation nurses, who specialize in the care of the chronically ill and injured
  • Physical therapists, who specialize in helping patients achieve maximum strength, balance and mobility
  • Occupational therapists, who specialize in improving patients’ ability to complete activities of daily living
  • Speech-language pathologists, who specialize in helping patients improve communication, cognition and swallowing
  • Recreational therapists, who specialize in providing education and community-based interventions to improve patients’ physical, mental, social and emotional well-being 
  • Respiratory therapists, who specialize in assessing and treating breathing disorders
  • Dietitians, who specialize in nutrition and dietetics
  • Social workers, who help patients and families with social, emotional and financial needs
  • Case managers, who coordinate inpatient and post-hospital care and services for patients and families
  • Rehabilitation engineers, who specialize in determining the proper assistive technology devices, such as wheelchairs, braces and special computer equipment

Post-Concussive Syndrome

Most people have a full recovery after one to two weeks. For the 15 to 25 percent of people who continue to have cognitive or memory issues beyond that, or symptoms such as dizziness or double vision, we specialize in treating post-concussive syndrome.

Our treatment options include:

  • Dizziness or vertigo assessment by specialists who can prescribe medications to relieve symptoms
  • Relaxation techniques or medications for sleep disturbances or headache pain management
  • Balance training with a physical therapist
  • Cognitive rehabilitation with certified neuropsychologists

Other Services

Other Services

Your treatment team may recommend a variety of other rehab services, including: 

Community Re-entry Program

The Community Re-entry Program helps you learn the skills you need to maximize your independence in daily life. We teach you how to adapt and function by simulating various environments, such as your community, home, work and school. Our goal is to enable you to reconnect with aspects of your life that existed prior to your injury or illness.

Learn more

Functional Capacity Program

The Functional Capacity Program team evaluates your current strength and physical endurance relative to your work responsibilities. These evaluations establish whether you will be able to return to work in the same capacity as prior to your injury or if certain restrictions will be required.

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Human Motion Analysis and Recovery Program

The Human Motion Analysis and Recovery Program uses advanced technology to support treatments for patients with injuries and diseases that cause coordination, movement and walking disorders. Our primary focus is helping you restore your physical functional abilities.

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Rehabilitation Driving Program

The Rehabilitation Driving Program helps restore mobility to those affected by neurological, orthopedic or developmental conditions, or to those who have experienced age-related changes in function. Our goal is to help you return to safe, independent driving.

Rehabilitation Psychology

Rehabilitation Psychology focuses on behavioral and psychological treatment for patients and families coping with chronic illness, chronic pain and disability. Our Division of Rehabilitation Psychology treats adults with disabilities related to physical, sensory, cognitive and emotional functioning.

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Research

Research

We are studying the reliability of Nintendo’s Wii Fit for assessing and managing concussion. If we demonstrate it to be useful, athletic trainers everywhere could add this fitness tool to a standard physical examination and test of cognitive ability, symptoms and balance.  

Enroll in a clinical trial

Our Doctors

Additional Information

When you are seeing one of our specialists for the first time, please bring any medical records from previous head injury treatments, including results of neuropsychological or neurocognitive evaluations. We also request that you bring a CD of imaging studies, including CTs or MRIs of the brain.

Preparing for your visit

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