Concussion Recovery Program

Approximately 80% of patients recover from a concussion within 3 weeks of trauma, but the remaining 20% have a longer road ahead. This program targets the 20% still exhibiting symptoms after that time period. Our Concussion Recovery Program offers a comprehensive, multi-disciplinary approach to the evaluation and management of concussions caused by sports injuries, falls or other head trauma. The program brings together a team of specialists using cutting-edge research and a wealth of physical medicine experience to address short and long-term symptoms and help individuals get back to normal life and sport activities as quickly and safely as possible. Post-Concussion care includes physician evaluation, ImPACT post-injury testing, and physical therapy. We also offer baseline ImPACT Concussion Testing for large teams or groups or for individuals.

What is a Concussion?

It is a traumatic brain injury that is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, and can occur even if you don’t lose consciousness. All concussions are serious and can affect your ability to do everyday activities. Signs and symptoms include: loss of consciousness, balance problems, feeling dazed, confused or fogginess, loss of memory, headache, nausea, blurred or double vision, or fatigue.

What is Post Concussive Syndrome?

After a concussion is suffered, side effects may persist for days, weeks, or months, If this is the case, patients should avoid activities that put them at risk for a repeated concussion. Athletes should not return to play after suffering a concussion until medically cleared by their doctor. Some patients may need a more specialized treatment program to get them back to being healthy and ready to play sports. This is where RWJUH’s program can help.

Program Features:

  • A six stage “Return-to-Play” Protocol coordinated by physicians, physical therapists, and athletic trainers that progress athletes from minimum to full athletic exertion under supervision.
  • Physical Therapy to reduce symptoms, improve strength, conditioning and balance
  • Occupational Therapy including visual and occulomotor assessment and safe driving testing
  • Speech therapy for cognitive assessment and treatment
  • ImPACT Testing
  • Referrals to neurologists, neuro-psychiatrists, sleep specialists, sports medicine specialists, optometrists, and ear, nose and throat specialists may also be recommended as needed.

What is ImPACT test?

ImPACT (Immediate Post Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) is the most-widely used and most scientifically validated computerized concussion evaluation system. This software program was developed in the 1990s to provide useful information to assist qualified practitioners in making sound return to play decisions following concussions and is now utilized throughout all levels of athletics including interscholastic, intercollegiate, and professional sports. It is a neurocognitive assessment that can help predict if a concussion is present. It is recommended to have one prior to a concussion to have a baseline- which is key in diagnosing and treating a concussion down the road.We believe it is the best approach to concussion management.

Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital offers the ImPACT for our area’s student-athletes.

How can ImPACT be utilized in concussion treatment?

The ImPACT is one important piece of the overall concussion evaluation and management process. It is a sophisticated test of cognitive abilities which can be used as a tool for health care professionals to track the recovery of cognitive processes, make decisions about academic needs or modifications, and help communicate post-concussion status to athletes, coaches, and parents following concussion.

The ImPACT is ideally completed prior to the athlete’s sport season and is Step 1 of the concussion management model to determine an athlete’s baseline. The test takes about 25-30 minutes to complete and is non-invasive. It includes a demographic profile, health history questionnaire, current concussions symptoms and conditions, and neurocognitive tests. The test modules measure information such as verbal and visual memory, reaction time, processing speed, and concentration.

If a concussion is suspected (Step 2), the athlete should immediately be evaluated by a trained healthcare professional. The RWJ Sports Medicine team can assist in directing parents and athletes to local area physicians who are experienced in concussion evaluation and management. Following evaluation, a post-injury ImPACT test will be completed (Step 3) and thus serves as a comparison to the pre-season baseline testing report, which trained healthcare professionals can use to objectively evaluate the extent of the injury, track injury recovery, and determine safe return to play (Step 4 and 5).

The RWJ Sports Medicine team can administer the baseline ImPACT testing and any subsequent post-injury ImPACT testing when indicated by a physician.

What Should I do if I have a concussion and need treatment?

While specific treatment plans and return to play decisions should always be made by an experienced physician, once specialized treatment is recommended, call any one of our RWJ Somerset locations to get more info or schedule an initial evaluation.

Call the location nearest you or toll-free at 1-855-SPRTS-MED and follow the prompts.