Concussions are unfortunately the most common type of traumatic brain injury (TBI). They occur when enough pressure and/or impact is placed on the brain. The term concussion is used interchangeably by health professionals with the term mild TBI, which emphasizes concussions as the mildest form of TBI, and concussions typically do not result in any structural changes to the brain. While it is the mildest form of TBI, it is still an injury that needs to be taken seriously. If neglected and/or treated improperly, patients run the risk of persistent symptoms and/or significantly decreased quality of life.
At the RIW Concussion Clinic, we evaluate all potential concussions resultant from sports participation, falls, MVAs, on the job incidents, assaults, and all potential mechanisms for injury. Dr. Ted Albrecht, clinical neuropsychologist, directs a multidisciplinary clinic that evaluates concussion utilizing current state of the art methods, including a comprehensive physical evaluation, neurocognitive testing, and a focused clinical interview, which will review the patient’s medical history and current signs/symptoms. Due to the diversity in patients’ medical backgrounds and genetic makeup, patients can present with a variety of differing signs and symptoms following concussion. While diverse in presentation, all concussions are treatable if attended to appropriately in clinic.
Why is RIW different from other concussion clinics in Seattle?
The best part about RIW’s concussion clinic is that all of our providers operate underneath the same roof and communicate directly regarding your care. This provides ideal continuity of care and makes it convenient for you as a patient to have RIW as a one-stop shop for your concussion treatment. Additionally, Dr. Albrecht completed his postdoctoral fellowship training at the University of Pittsburgh’s Sports Medicine Concussion Program, a world-renowned clinic, and the only training program in the country focused solely on concussion. There, he provided concussion treatment to over 4,000 patients during his two years of formal training.
What to expect from my visit
When you come into clinic, Dr. Albrecht will evaluate your injury, develop a treatment plan, and provide appropriate treatment and, if needed, refer you to physical therapy, occupational therapy, cognitive/speech therapy, and/or to a member of our medical team, among others. We will provide treatment monitoring and guidance throughout the entirety of your recovery.
What to do if you suspect you had a concussion
If you demonstrate any of the following signs or symptoms following a head injury, present immediately to the ED (these may be signs of more serious injury):
- Loss of consciousness/altered consciousness.
- Loss of memory for the event and/or loss of memory for any events just before or just after the event
- Repeated vomiting
- Severe headache that will not go away
- Weakness/Numbness in the extremities
- Changes in vision that do not go away
- Slurred speech or difficulties with speech
- Seizure activity
If you are experiencing unfamiliar signs or symptoms following a head injury, it is likely that you sustained a concussion. Here are some of the most common symptoms following concussion:
- Balance problems
- Mental Fogginess/Difficulties with memory and concentration
- Blurred/double vision
- Light/sound sensitivity
If you are experiencing any of the above symptoms or any symptoms which are unfamiliar to you, here is a recommended step by step plan to start your recovery:
- Schedule an appointment with RIW immediately. Research suggests those who get into clinic sooner can recover exponentially quicker.
- If you sustained your head injury within the last 48 hours, it is okay to take it a little more easily than usual.
- It is okay to use electronics, to move around, and to complete your normal daily activities so long as you feel safe doing so. You will likely feel symptoms when completing some activities, though you are not doing any harm to yourself or your brain.
- If you work in a profession requiring operation of heavy machinery and/or participation in high-risk situations (e.g., truck drivers, medical professionals providing surgery, emergency responders, etc.), it is not recommended that you continue with these activities until formally evaluated in clinic.
- If you are an athlete, discontinue contact activity immediately when a concussion is suspected.
- Take it easy for the rest of the day but try not to completely shut down (e.g., retreating to a dark room and laying down)
- Schedule an appointment to come in for an evaluation.
- Between the injury and your scheduled evaluation, it is okay to lightly progress back into your normal exercise regimen, but do not participate in any contact sport activity until formally cleared to do so by a medical professional.
More information about concussion
When a biomechanical force impacts the head, the brain shakes rapidly in the skull, neurons within the brain bend, forcing the brain into an acute state of energy crisis. This energy crisis results in the brain having to work harder than normal to function and complete normal activities. It also results in symptoms, particularly when engaging in these normal day to day activities that would typically not otherwise result in symptoms.
The field of concussion has discovered different types of presentations following concussion. Some of the most common profiles are:
- Post-traumatic migraine
Your evaluation will determine which type(s) of concussion you have incurred, and what specific treatment is most appropriate to speed your recovery.
Scheduling an Appointment
For questions and appointment scheduling please contact our program coordinator: