Athletics put individuals at risk for head injuries—especially contact sports. Even with proper use of headgear designed to minimize the risk of injury, concussions do occur, and these traumatic brain injuries involve brain damage. Suboptimal brain function that occurs as a result of a concussion can affect how you feel, and may compromise quality of life in the weeks and months after an injury. Sometimes, without proper care, concussion symptoms last long-term, and they may even put individuals at risk for serious health problems.

Short term, an athlete can experience a variety of symptoms following a concussion: headaches are common, as are problems with memory, balance or coordination. Sleep disturbances may occur, and sometimes the ability to focus or concentrate is compromised. Cognitive function isn’t the only thing that may be affected; emotional stability can suffer as a result of interruption of normal brain function, too.

Clearly, it’s to every athlete’s advantage to receive effective care for concussions when they occur. Following a head injury, the focus is typically on emergency care to rule out dangerous complications, such as brain swelling. Aside from recommendations to rest and seek approval from an appropriate medical professional before returning to play, not much attention is usually given to rehabilitation or recovery.

There is however a lot that can be done to help the brain heal in most cases, so symptoms can be minimized and the risk of long-term damage may be avoided. A post-concussion recovery program that’s customized for the individual’s unique condition is a key to effective care.

Functional neurologists provide post-concussion therapeutic support that focuses on improving brain function. A comprehensive functional assessment evaluates brain function through specialized tools that test balance, visual skills and more. In-depth testing and measurements provide a very complete picture of exactly how brain function and the brain-body connection have been affected by an injury. This makes it possible for an experienced functional neurologist to develop a recovery program designed to achieve unique and very precise goals. Progress can be evaluated throughout the care program, and adjustments in therapy can be made to maximize recovery. There is no guesswork involved in this type of care.

The therapeutic support functional neurologists provide is safe, natural, and typically very effective. There are no side-effects or risks involved. Targeted areas of the athlete’s brain are stimulated or calmed through various sensory experiences. Therapies are designed to encourage the formation of new connections as needed to improve brain function. Improvements are brought about in gentle, gradual ways, and results are long-term solutions rather than quick fixes.

Athletes don’t have to leave concussion recovery to chance, or take a ‘wait and see’ approach to healing and rehabilitation. Instead, a functional neurologist can help ensure you recover fully in the most efficient way possible.