Concussion Management

A concussion occurs when there is a direct blow or force to the head that causes a change in mental status. During a concussion, the brain is demanding more energy than it is receiving. Therefore, it can lead to symptoms such as disorientation, confusion, memory loss. This may also cause slowness in thinking.

The Athletico Physical Therapy’s Head Injury and Concussion Management Program benefits individuals who have had a concussion, or participate in an activity where there is potential for a concussion. Athletico provides concussion management and baseline test training to athletic trainers and physical therapists.

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Patient/Athlete May Experience:

Please note: symptoms may not surface until 48 to 72 hours after the injury.

  • Headache or pressure in head
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred/double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering/loss of memory
  • Spots before eyes
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Feeling “in a fog”

Physician, Athletic Trainer, or Neurological Specialist may diagnose:

  • Acute Concussion
  • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI)

Athletico Physical Therapy Options:

Return to Participation or ADL (Activities of Daily Living) Protocol* (Illinois Only):

After sustaining a concussion, the following protocol, or a similar protocol, will be used to safely progress a patient or athletes return to participation and/or daily function. This should be performed under the direction of a qualified medical provider. It is recommended that there be approximately 24 hours between each stage. Recovery is different for every person who sustains a concussion. Recovery time cannot and should not be predetermined until a post-concussion evaluation by a certified athletic trainer.

Both patients and athletes will not return to participation the same day as a concussive event. Return to ADL or play will occur once symptom-free at rest, exertion, and have returned to their baseline state.

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Rehabilitation Stage Functional Exercise Success Goal
No Activity Complete physical and mental rest. Recovery and symptom free rest.
Low Exertion Stationary cycling keeping intensity. Increase heart rate without being under 70% maximum predicted heart rate symptoms (30 minute max).
Increased Exertion Running while keeping intensity. Can add movement without symptoms. Increase heart rate without being under 70% maximum predicted heart rate symptoms. (30 minute max)
High Exertion Sport-specific exercises. No head-impact activities. Add coordination and cognition without symptoms.
Non-Contact Practice Full practice without contact may start along with progressive resistance training. Increase exercise, cognitive load and coordination without symptoms.
Return to Play Normal game play.
Return to ADL Normal function of daily activity. Normal function of daily activity.

*This protocol is implemented to promote compliance with: IHSA Return to Play Policy, IHSA Protocol for Implementation of NFHS Sports Playing Rule for Concussions, Illinois HB 0200, and City of Chicago Ordinance – Concussion Injuries in Student Athletes in Chicago Schools (Ch. 7-22 Municipal Code of Chicago) which outline that athletes exhibiting symptoms of a concussion cannot return to play until cleared by an appropriate healthcare professional.

Please consult your state protocol or refer any questions to your physician, Athletic Trainer and/or Physical Therapy.

 At Home Recovery Tips:

  • Avoid loud noises (Music, TV, band practices, or listening to a music device)
  • Limit texting, reading, video games, typing, or internet use.
  • Avoid any over-the-counter medications (Advil, Motrin, Ibuprofen, Aleve) that may mask symptoms, unless advised otherwise by a physician.
  • If you’re a student: the school nurse, athletic director, administrator, and/or guidance counselor should be contacted to postpone any quizzes or exams that may be needed.

Learn more about Concussion: Fact or Fiction

Fact Fiction
Studies show that less than 10% of concussions result in loss of consciousness. You have to have loss of consciousness to have sustained a concussion.
A concussion can be sustained by a sudden, violent movement of the head caused by an unexpected external force to the body. Concussions are only a result of a direct blow to the head.
You only need to check on a concussed athlete periodically. You need to wake someone with a concussion every 20 minutes.
Any response to the pupils is indicative of a much more serious brain injury. If the patient and/or athlete is coherently speaking to you, there is no need to check their pupils. You need to check pupils with a flashlight to see if they are dilated or uneven.

Concussion Resource Documents:

For more information take the Athletico Concussion Quiz or contact a Head Injury and Concussion Management Clinician by emailing

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