Like any other doctor appointment, it is important for patients to arrive prepared for their first concussion specialist appointment. The Mayo Clinic suggests the following tips for patients preparing for their first appointments:1
List symptoms. Patients should keep a list of any and all symptoms they are experiencing—not just symptoms they suspect are related to the concussion.
Write down personal and medical information. Knowing if the patient has any unique stressors, recent life changes, or other facets of their daily life is an important part of the diagnosis and treatment process. This information should also include a list of the patient’s current medications and supplements (if any), whether or not the patient has a previous history of head injury, and any other conditions for which the patient is receiving treatment.
Bring a family member. Not only can family members help patients remember details, they may also have their own information to share about how the patient’s behavior has been impacted by the concussion or concussion symptoms.
Bring questions. Having questions for the physician written down can help patients remember what they want to ask. Questions may be about symptom persistence, treatment recommendations and plans, returning to regular activities, and other facets of the treatment and recovery process.
Patients who arrive to their appointments prepared can make the most of their time with their doctor. Bringing written lists (or even a family member) along can help ensure nothing is left out of the consultation.
What to expect during a concussion specialist appointment
Unlike other injuries, there is no single, definitive test with which physicians can diagnose a concussion. To assess a patient’s condition, a concussion specialist will typically administer one or more of the following:
- Physical exam and assessment
- Symptom checklist
- Memory questionnaire
- Information processing and reaction time tests
- Neuropsychology testing
Imaging technologies such as MRI and CT scans cannot detect or diagnose concussions, and are not used in the acute situation. CT scans may be used in the emergency room setting if a more significant injury is suspected.2
If a patient is diagnosed with concussion, a concussion specialist will help the patient devise a recovery plan and advise the patient on how to manage symptoms. Follow-up appointments may be scheduled to monitor symptoms and make adjustments to treatment.