Concussion Program

Concussion Program

About

A concussion can happen in an instant with a blow to the head or body. When the force causes the brain to move rapidly back and forth in the skull, it can change how the brain cells work and cause a variety of side effects. A concussion can happen even when a helmet is worn.

Recognizing the symptoms of a concussion can improve recovery and prevent long-term health problems and additional injury. The most common symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Headache or head pressure
  • Nausea with or without vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling off balance
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Feeling foggy, slow or tired
  • Difficulty with attention or concentration
  • Forgetfulness
  • Changes in mood or personality

Have you or a loved one suffered a concussion?

It’s important to seek an evaluation by a physician trained in concussion assessment and management. The evaluation will include a neurological examination. A head CT or MRI may or may not be recommended, as they are not always useful for the evaluation of concussions. Most concussion patients recover quickly with the proper care.

Through the Northwell Health Concussion Program, we offer comprehensive concussion management services, including:

  • Consultation – Our physicians practice evidence-based concussion management guidelines for patients of all ages and all injuries.
  • Neuropsychology consultation and neurocognitive testing – We provide assessment and treatment for cognitive and/or emotional difficulties that may occur following a concussion, such as difficulty with concentration and remembering, anxiety and depression.
  • Vestibular and balance rehabilitation – Vestibular therapy can help improve dizziness and restore balance and coordination.
  • Physical therapy – Agility and performance can be maximized with physical therapy as part of recovery in certain athletes.
  • Return to school protocol management – Our specialists work with students and provide appropriate accommodations for school to ensure help is provided where needed.
  • Return to play protocol management – Our specialists communicate with athletic teams and schools to ensure that return to play is done correctly and safely.
  • Return to participation – Work and Leisure – Our specialists assist with improving function and reintegration into work and daily activities.

To enter the concussion program, you must obtain an evaluation by a physician. Please call (855) 510-5110 to request an appointment. 

Hear one patient’s story

Our Concussion Program helped one young athlete make a dramatic recovery.

Nurse Lorraine Kuczwaj never lets her daughter, Shannon, snowboard without a helmet. “It’s like putting your seatbelt on,” she says. Yet despite the safety rules her mom put in place, Shannon fell while snowboarding one day and hit her head. Soon, she experienced headaches and dizziness and had difficulty concentrating—all symptoms of a concussion, an injury that affects how brain cells work. 

“I was worried because a good friend of hers was out of school for a year [after a concussion],” explains Lorraine, who took her daughter to see Dr. Rosanna Sabini, DO, the Medical Director of Northwell Health’s Concussion Program at Southside Hospital.

“If you treat a concussion right away,” explains Dr. Sabini, an expert in brain injury medicine, “and address the problems that bring on the symptoms, you can make quick improvements.” She created a plan for Shannon which included staying home from school for the first few days; limiting or avoiding activities that worsen symptoms; refraining from gym class and sports; and participating in vestibular rehabilitation, which helps retrain the brain to compensate for problems with balance, dizziness and coordination.

According to Dr. Sabini, complete rest in a dark room is no longer the standard of care for concussions. But while a little movement helps the body and brain to heal, too much stimulation can worsen symptoms. She empowers patients to know—and honor—their limitations. “If you listen to your body, you’re more likely to have a quick recovery,” she says. 

Lorraine was skeptical about this approach at first, but she reports that Shannon’s recovery was “dramatic.” Within a few weeks, her daughter experienced a steady reduction in dizziness and headaches as well as a vast improvement in her concentration. 

“People come in well-informed, but some of the information they have may be out of date,” says Dr. Sabini. “Concussion is a very treatable diagnosis, and people do get better from it.”

For more information or to schedule an appointment, call (855) 510-5110.