At the Weill Cornell Concussion Clinic, we believe that neurological injury requires neurological expertise to assess and treat. That’s why our team consists of neurologists, neuropsychologists, and other neuroscience experts specializing in traumatic brain injury.
Diagnosing a concussion involves several steps, starting with a thorough history of the injury to document the presence and extent of any retrograde amnesia (meaning loss of memory of events leading up to the injury and of the injury itself), loss of consciousness, or post-traumatic amnesia (not registering memories of events after the injury). The last sign, post-traumatic amnesia, is one of the best indicators of how well a patient will recover after a concussion.
Unfortunately, many physicians not experienced with concussion will not take this type of history, even though it is the most important information in establishing the presence, severity, and prognosis of concussion. With children, well-intentioned pediatricians who are not experts in concussion may neglect important aspects of the history that help guide management.
In the days following a concussion the patient should see an expert in neurological functioning who can provide comprehensive evaluation and diagnosis, plus a roadmap to recovery that includes recommendations for returning to work, school, or play. Many patients are unaware of the importance of this part of the process, but it is critical for assessing mental functions such as attention, concentration, and memory. At the Weill Cornell Concussion Clinic, we take seriously the development of this roadmap, and we continue to monitor and guide our patients through the days, weeks, and months after a brain injury.
Many patients recovering from a concussion experience some degree of emotional difficulties and/or cognitive deficits in addition to the physical effects of the injury. Concussion is not only emotionally stressful, but it can lead to cognitive deficits, including problems with attention, memory, executive functioning (initiating, planning, and organizing), and information processing speed. The experts at the Weill Cornell Concussion Clinic are specially trained in identifying these deficits and creating a plan for resolving them.