Seeking support from a functional neurologist may help you recover from a concussion as quickly and as fully as possible. Those who suffer a mild traumatic brain injury are usually told to rest, and physical and mental rest is important for healing. It’s especially important to avoid a secondary concussion before recovery from an initial traumatic brain injury is complete.

A concussion can be extremely dangerous. If rapid brain swelling occurs, catastrophic neurological decline can occur. This may include permanent disabilities or even death. A concussion puts you at increased risk for a second concussion, too, during the time you are still healing.

So how do you know when your brain has fully recovered from a concussion? When is it safe for athletes to return to play, or to start driving again? Sometimes people assume that as long as they ‘feel’ okay, and they’re not suffering from any obvious symptoms, recovery must be complete. For others, an amount of time passes—maybe two weeks, maybe a month—after which they assume healing is complete.

Professional athletes sometimes seek out neuropsychological assessment as part of the decision-making process regarding return to. One problem with such testing however is that patients do not typically have pre-existing baseline testing available. Therefore, test results are compared with population norms, which can prove problematic. For one thing, the neuropsychological deficits that are being measured may be very subtle, while at the same time, test results are compared against a wide range of ‘normal’ results. There are also limited ‘normal’ datasets for certain population groups (for example, females, or children). In addition, many factors can impact test performance.

The reality is that neuropsychological assessment isn’t a simple solution, or even a completely reliable partial solution, to the problem of knowing when it is safe to assume the brain has fully recovered from a concussion.

Fortunately, there’s an alternative option for post-concussion assessment. A functional neurologist can perform a comprehensive evaluation that detects any and all changes in brain function following a concussion. This includes changes that affect cognitive function as well as motor function, and even very subtle or slight changes.

Functional neurology does not involve a ‘wait and see’ approach to concussion care. There’s no need to wait for what appears to be a full recovery of symptoms to undergo testing that can measure changes in brain function. Structural or functional neurologic dysfunctions that may be causing symptoms can be identified right away. Precise tests that incorporate advanced technology and the latest techniques in functional assessment can determine what is occurring in the patient’s brain, and what needs to happen for recovery to progress. Results can also be measured, so it is clear when recovery has occurred and when it is complete.

A functional neurologist can also provide baseline testing for young athletes, adults whose professions put them at risk for concussion, or anyone who is concerned about the risk of traumatic brain injury. Baseline testing may make post-concussion evaluation a more efficient process should a future injury occur.