If you’ve experienced a concussion, it’s important to understand what’s really happened—and may continue to happen—in your brain. While many people choose to sit back, rest up, and take a ‘wait and see’ stance toward healing, this may not be your best option. When you understand more about concussions, you can make an informed decision about being more proactive when it comes to recovery.

Here are 5 things to consider if you’ve suffered a concussion:

1. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury.

Although concussions are typically ‘mild’ traumatic brain injuries, they can and often do cause significant damage to the brain. When a concussion occurs, the brain hits against the hard, bony surface of the skull. This impact may result in damage to one or more areas of the brain, resulting in symptoms.  

2. A concussion may cause immediate symptoms, symptoms may develop in the future, or both may occur.

The immediate effects of concussion may be quite unmistakable: pain, loss of memory, dizziness or perhaps nausea. Damage to the brain can also result in longer-term effects, or symptoms that develop later. Sometimes symptoms that occur initially and are expected to fade end up lingering. There is no guarantee that rest and the use of pain killers will bring about proper healing or a full recovery following a traumatic brain injury.

3. Customized care is best for concussion recovery.

If you visit the ER or an Urgent Care facility following a head injury, it’s likely you’ll be evaluated for concussion and any potential complications. If it’s determined that it’s safe for you to be released, it’s likely you’ll be told to rest, avoid stress, and under no circumstances engage in any activity that may result in a second injury. This may be sound advice, but it does not offer the benefits of customized care.

Therapeutic support that is truly customized will follow an extensive evaluation and will be designed to help your brain heal and recover proper function in very specific, measurable ways. A functional neurologist can provide the type of customized support that actively supports rehabilitation following concussion.

4. The only way to know the brain has fully recovered optimal function is through testing.

You may ‘feel’ fine a few days or weeks after a concussion, but has your brain really regained full, proper function? You can’t see proper brain function, but it can be tested by a functional neurologist. If you want to be sure you’re fully recovered from a concussion and minimize the risk for developing problems in the future, opt for testing that eliminates all doubt about recovery.

5. It’s possible to recover from concussion symptoms you’ve struggled with long-term, even if the injury occurred months or years ago.

The brain has a remarkable ability to recover and heal, especially with the right support. A functional neurologist can evaluate your condition and determine whether or not brain-based therapies may help improve your symptoms. It’s worth checking out, even if you’ve ‘tried everything’ and been told nothing can be done to help you.