Concussion treatment and evaluation

A concussion, or mild traumatic brain injury, is an injury that interferes with normal brain function, leading to temporary problems of how you feel, think and act. Most kids recover completely with appropriate treatment, but all concussions are serious and, if not managed properly, could result in long-term complications, or in rare cases more severe complications. Expert medical evaluation and treatment of every concussion and its symptoms is very important.

If a child sustains a concussion, a pediatric specialist at Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin will perform a complete review of his or her injuries and symptoms, along with a thorough physical exam. During each follow-up visit, we will evaluate the treatment plan and offer help in managing symptoms, functioning at school, maintaining regular sleep patterns, and driving safely. We also will provide a timeline for returning to normal activities. 

Some kids also might need an MRI or to be seen by additional specialists outside of the Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin’s concussion program. Our experts will provide referrals as needed.

Common conditions and symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia
  • Slow response
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Mood swings
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Dizzy
  • Fatigue
  • Vision changes
  • Numbness/tingling

For a more complete list, visit our conditions and symptoms page.

Baseline concussion tests

Several national medical organizations suggest that computerized testing can be helpful in managing concussions. Baseline concussion tests are given to healthy athletes before a concussion happens. After an injury, another test may be done. The results then can be compared to measure the athlete's brain function before and after the injury. This helps sports medicine specialists improve concussion care and make return-to-play decisions.

Children's uses ImPACTTM and Axon Sports computerized evaluation tests, which are commonly used in organized high school sports, the NCAA and the NFL.

These tests measure:

  • Verbal and visual memory
  • Attention span
  • Brain processing speed 
  • Reaction time

Also, as part of the baseline test, your child’s balance will be assessed using the Balance Error Scoring System (BESS) to evaluate postural stability and balance pre-injury.