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RWJ Rahway Concussion Program
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A concussion is a head or brain injury that interferes with normal brain function and may affect how you feel, think, or act. Football players and student athletes are not the only people who get concussions. You can get a concussion from a car accident, a workplace injury or a household fall.

Many concussions are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed. If undiagnosed or ignored, a concussion can lead to complications that can be long term. That's why it's important to receive the right diagnosis and treatment plan. Expert medical evaluation and treatment can prevent or minimize complications from a head injury and help you recover.

Our program uses ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing), the most widely used and scientifically validated concussion evaluation and management system. ImPACT provides clinicians with neurocognitive assessment tools and protocols that have been medically accepted as best practices in determining safe return to play decisions. It is used by the NCAA, NASCAR and professional athletic organizations.

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle. Depending on the type of concussion, symptoms can last up to days, weeks, or even longer.
Some of the more common symptoms:

  • Headache
  • Temporary loss of conscious
  • Confusion or “foggy”
  • Vision Changes
  • Comprehension Problems
  • Attention Problems
  • Dizziness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed
  • Fatigue

If you experience these symptoms after a head injury, immediately consult your doctor or seek an evaluation at the nearest Emergency Department. If there are no emergent problems, such a brain bleed, you can follow a standardized concussion treatment protocol that includes rest and avoidance of loud noises, active environments, television or car rides. But if you don’t improve within a few days, you should consider a Concussion Program evaluation.

What happens if a concussion is left untreated?

An untreated concussion can cause long-term problems such as chronic headache, chronic eye pain, blurred vision, memory loss, attention disorders, and difficulty with reading comprehension, balance problems and vertigo. These can occur years after the injury. Another risk is second impact syndrome (SIS), which occurs when you experience a brain trauma while the brain is still recovering from the previous brain injury. SIS can cause extreme brain damage. An untreated concussion may also result in psychological changes such as depression, personality change and problems with judgment.

How is a concussion diagnosed?

Concussions are generally diagnosed with a clinical exam and a cognitive assessment. Sometimes a CT scan or MRI is used. A lot of concussions are undiagnosed or misdiagnosed.

Are all concussions the same?

Not all concussions are the same. They vary from minor to severe and there is a grading system used by healthcare providers to categorize the severity. The grading systems are based on symptoms after a head injury and how long they last. A diagnosis of concussions is not always straightforward or easy to make.

How are concussions treated?

The treatment depends on the level of the concussion, but it mostly involves rest, limiting activity and avoiding electronic stimuli such as television, computers, video games and hand held devices. Medication might be recommended, as well as physical therapy. One of the advantages of a concussion program is monitoring the patient to make sure they are improving.

The medical director of the Concussion Program at RWJ Rahway is Dr. Richard Schaller. Dr. Schaller is a board-certified Emergency Department physician, who is ImPACT trained and certified. He has extensive experience in workplace and athletic medicine. Our program, under his guidance, takes a multi-disciplinary approach that includes collaboration with specialists in neurology, ophthalmology and rehabilitation medicine to help patients with movement, coordination, balance and function.

To make an appointment, call 732 499 6400. Fax is 732 499 6744. The office is located on the first floor of the hospital, 865 Stone Street, Rahway in the Workplace and Ambulatory Medicine suite.

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