New Jersey Concussion Center

What is a concussion?

A concussion is:Female concussion patient

“defined as a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by traumatic biomechanical forces.” (Cantu et al., 2005)

Let’s break it down:

  1. Concussions can be caused by a direct blow to the head, face, neck, or anywhere else on the body where the force of the blow is transferred to the head.
  2. A concussion typically results in the rapid onset and short lived impairment of neurological function that resolves spontaneously.
  3. A concussion may result in neuropathological changes, but the acute clinical symptoms largely reflect a functional disturbance rather than a structural injury.
  4. A concussion results in a graded set of clinical syndromes that may or may not involve a loss of consciousness. Resolution of the clinical and cognitive symptoms typically follows a sequential course.
  5. Concussion is typically associated with grossly normal structural neuroimaging studies (Cantu et al., 2005)

What areas does a concussion effect?

Physical

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Balance difficulty
  • Visual disturbance
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Dazed
  • Stunned

Cognitive

  • Foggy
  • Feeling slow
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Memory impairment
  • Confusion of current events
  • Slow processing
  • Repeated questions

Emotional

  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Labile (unstable) Affect
  • Nervousness

Sleep

  • Drowsiness
  • Increased sleep
  • Decreased sleep
  • Difficulty falling asleep

(Guskiewicz & Valovich McCleod, 2011)

Who will be diagnosing and managing your concussion?

There is a team of EXPERT neuropsychologists, neurologists, neurosurgeons, therapists and nurses who will all be working together to manage your concussion as effectively as possible, including diagnosis and the coordination of return to play (RTP).

What will be done for your concussion? First we need to evaluate you or your child…then if need be…Neuroimaging:

We have advanced neuroimaging services, including HIGH QUALITY magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Neuropsychological Evaluation:

Our program utilizes the Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing (ImPACT), which measures cognitive abilities, such as attention, memory, reasoning, language, and perception to accurately detect a concussion. The ImPACT is a 20-minute computerized test available for measuring baseline functioning, as well as post-injury functioning, and allows doctors to measure and track the effects of a concussion. The ImPACT is also utilized to determine when an athlete will be ready to return to play.

If indicated, we do offer complete neurocognitive evaluations and neuropsychological assessment with a pediatric neuropsychologist. Neuropsychologists are doctors who specialize in caring for children with brain injury, whether from a traumatic brain injury (TBI), concussion, brain tumor, or other brain injury.

Balance Testing:

Our program will also perform balance testing to determine your ability to:

  • determine touch, temperature and your body’s position in space (somatosensory)
  • balance or maintain equilibrium (vestibular)
  • see movement (visual)

Return to Play Procedures:

  1. No activity, complete rest.
  2. Light aerobic exercise (i.e. walking or stationary cycling).
  3. Sport specific exercise (i.e. skating for hockey, running for soccer).
  4. Non-contact training drills.
  5. Full contact training after medical clearance.
  6. Game play.

(Cantu et al., 2005)

REMEMBER!

A concussion is always a serious injury that needs to be reported!

Visit the New Jersey Concussion Center’s website for more information