An emergency room doctor often makes the initial diagnosis of a concussion. Once discharged, you may seek care from your family doctor or general practitioner. However, he or she may refer you to a doctor who specializes in brain and nervous system disorders (neurologist) or a brain rehabilitation specialist (physiatrist).
If you are referred to a specialist, it's a good idea to be well prepared for your appointment. Here's some information to help you get ready for your appointment, and know what to expect from your doctor.
What you can do
- Write down any symptoms you're experiencing, including any that may seem unrelated to the reason for which you scheduled the appointment.
- Write down key personal information, including any major stresses or recent life changes.
- Make a list of all medications, vitamins or supplements that you're taking.
- Ask a family member or friend to go with you, if possible. Sometimes it can be difficult to remember all of the information provided to you during an appointment. Someone who accompanies you may remember something that you missed or forgot.
- Write down questions to ask your doctor.
Preparing a list of questions can help you make the most of your appointment. List your questions from most important to least important in case time runs out. For post-concussion syndrome, some basic questions to ask your doctor include:
- Why are these symptoms still occurring?
- How long will they continue?
- Do I need any additional tests? Do these tests require any special preparation?
- Are there any treatments available, and which do you recommend?
- Are there any activity restrictions that I need to follow?
- Are there any brochures or other printed material that I can take home with me? What websites do you recommend visiting?
- When can I return to work?
- When can I drive again?
- Is it safe to drink alcohol?
- Is it OK to take my medications that were prescribed before the injury?
In addition to the questions that you've prepared to ask your doctor, don't hesitate to ask questions during your appointment.
What to expect from your doctor
Your doctor is likely to ask you a number of questions. Being ready to answer them may reserve time to go over any points you want to spend more time on. Your doctor may ask:
Sep. 29, 2011
- How did the initial injury occur?
- Have your symptoms been constant or do they come and go?
- What symptoms are you currently experiencing?
- How often do your symptoms occur?
- Does anything seem to improve your symptoms?
- What, if anything, makes your symptoms worse?
- Are your symptoms getting worse, staying the same or improving?
- Evans RW. Post-concussion syndrome. http://www.uptodate.com/home/index.html. Accessed June 4, 2011.
- Wright DW, et al. Head trauma in adults and children. In: Tintinalli JE, et al. Tintinalli's Emergency Medicine: A Comprehensive Study Guide. 7th ed. New York, N.Y.: The McGraw-Hill Companies; 2010. http://www.accessmedicine.com/content.aspx?aid=6388784. Accessed June 1, 2011.
- Jotwani V, et al. Postconcussion syndrome in athletes. Current Sports Medicine Reports. 2010;9:21.
- DeLee JC, et al. Head injuries. In: DeLee JC, et al. DeLee and Drez's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 3rd ed. Philadelphia, Pa.: Saunders Elsevier; 2009. http://www.mdconsult.com/books/page.do?sid=1168525515&eid=4-u1.0-B978-1-4160-3143-7..10015-6--s0015&isbn=978-1-4160-3143-7&uniqId=257618564-3. Accessed June 1, 2011.
- Prigatano GP, et al. The current status of postconcussion syndrome. Current Opinion in Psychiatry. 2011;24:243.
- Traumatic brain injury: Hope through research. National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke. http://www.ninds.nih.gov/disorders/tbi/detail_tbi.htm. Accessed June 4, 2011.
- What you need to know about air bags. National Highway Traffic Safety Administration. http://www.nhtsa.gov/people/injury/airbags/airbags03/airbags1.html#1065115450. Accessed July 13, 2011.
- Cicerone KD, et al. Evidence-based cognitive rehabilitation: Updated review of the literature from 2003 through 2008. Archives of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation. 2011;92:519.