Concussions: When to See a Doctor or Therapist


This month we dive into the study “Examining how time from sport-related concussion to initial assessment predicts return to play clearance” written by Dr. Taylor Pratile, Cameron Marshall, and Carol DeMatteo. This study evaluated if time to initial assessment following a sport related concussion was a predictor of recovery time. In other words, do people who seek care sooner get better faster following a concussion from sport. This study was published in The Physician and Sport Medicine journal in September 2020. This study can be found here: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/00913847.2021.1879603

Sport organizations now have improved concussion guidelines, however, their success is heavily reliant on the adoption by each team’s coaching, training staff, and athletes. Concussions can be difficult to evaluate because they aren’t as simple as taking an X-Ray and seeing a broken bone heal over time. Due to the lack of objective testing for the diagnosis of sport related concussions, healthcare providers rely heavily on self reporting from athletes and coaching staff.

The Study:

This study evaluated the recovery of 1213 adolescent athletes who were diagnosed with a sport related concussion by a medical professional trained in concussion management. The research group’s core goal was to identify an optimal time patients should seek out a a medical assessment following a suspected concussion. Evaluations were performed in clinic using the Complete Concussion Management protocol by trained health care provides including sport medicine physicians, physiotherapists, or chiropractors. Each participant was evaluated for concussions symptoms through a comprehensive history and physical exam and provided with education, and a clear plan for return to learn and return to sport concussion protocols.

When Should You Get a Concussion Assessment?

The results showed that athletes who were assessed fewer than 10 days following a concussion had a recovery and full discharge at an average of 23.5 days. Those assessed at days 10 to 30 had a recovery and full discharge at an average of 37.1 days. Waiting to seek a medical assessment following a sport related concussion can lead to a 57% longer time to recover and ultimately suggests that early medical intervention helps optimize recovery following a concussion.

If you’ve suffered a suspected concussion please make sure you tell your coach team medical staff immediately. The most common sport concussion assessment tool used by athletic trainers is called the SCAT5 which can help identify what signs and symptoms athletes should be mindful of. Please seek emergency medical attention immediately if you have any red flag concussion signs. Click here for a full list of ‘red flag’ concussion symptoms

What to Expect from a Concussion Assessment at LiveActive

LiveActive maintains a multidisciplinary approach to care and recommends patients see the first available medical professional with training in concussion management. When possible, new injuries are seen within twenty-four to forty-eight hours by any of LiveActive’s sport medicine physicians, chiropractors, and physiotherapists. More common than not, patients can expect to have a multi-disciplinary care team working together on their case.

The initial assessment, is scheduled for for 40-50 minutes. The healthcare professionals will collect the medical history, an overview of any prior head injuries, identify the mechanism of injury and develop an understanding all concussion symptoms being experienced by the athlete. Upon ruling out any red flags, patients are provided with with concussion education as well as plan of management which includes return to learn and return to play guidelines.

Following an assessment, patients are guided through the RTP program, assessed via the Buffalo Concussion Treadmill test, and receive targeted therapy to the cervical spine and vestibular/visual systems as needed.

LiveActive’s very own, Dr. Pratile is the authors of this study.

To book a Concussion Assessment with a LiveActive Sport Medicine Doctor or Concussion Specialist, call 416-201-9770, email info@liveactivesportmed.com, or click the link below:

Schedule your Concussion Assessment Today


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