The majority of concussions resolve relatively quickly with rest, most often in a matter of days or weeks. Yet for some people, symptoms linger or worsen over time. It’s important to remember that a concussion is a traumatic brain injury. Even a mild one can cause problems that persist long after you expect healing to have occurred.

Ongoing headaches are one possible symptom when concussion recovery stagnates. Others include dizziness, problems with balance, and fatigue. Post-concussion syndrome may involve sleep disturbances and emotional symptoms too, such as anxiety and irritability. Patients may have problems with memory or concentration and focus and find they’re unable to complete tasks, including routine ones.

Symptoms and issues associated with concussion can persist months or even years after the injury occurs. This can be the case regardless of whether or not the individual received immediate medical care. A trip to the emergency room may help you avoid complications associated with concussion, including serious and permanent brain damage. But if you aren’t recovering from a concussion over time or you’d like to avoid long-term effects, seek out an additional, alternative type of care that focuses on rehabilitation after traumatic brain injury.

Concussions can involve a combination and interaction of symptoms that is complex. Specific testing and thorough evaluation are the only ways to determine exactly what is going on. Masking symptoms through the use of medications for pain or other symptoms will not help resolve the cause of the problem, and of course they do not always work. A better approach is to rely on testing that can pinpoint ongoing problems with brain function and brain-body connections.

One option to consider if you’d like to avoid long-term problems due to concussion is to take a proactive step with a pre-concussion evaluation. This is a preventative measure that can be taken by anyone who may be exposed to head injury through sports, work or recreational activities. A baseline test can provide scores for comparison should an injury occur. Reaction time, speed of mental processing, memory capacity and more can be measured and recorded through computerized assessment, providing extensive information that can be used to evaluate function in a customized way.

Concussions don’t always involve blacking out, ‘seeing stars’ or feeling nauseous. People sometimes suffer mild traumatic brain injuries and do not even know it. A baseline test is a terrific way to avoid the ‘guessing game.’

You don’t have to be an athlete or involved in sports to benefit from a baseline concussion test. A functional neurologist can help you assess your risk for concussion and provide baseline testing as appropriate. In addition to measurements that can be used for comparison sake in the event of an injury, a detailed medical history that includes information on prior head injuries you’ve suffered can be assembled too, for future reference. It’s a simple, but effective step you can take for yourself, your child or a loved one to support the fullest, swiftest recovery possible should a brain injury occur.