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Out Of The Dark: Changes In Treating Concussions

Doctor examines MRI scan of head, neck and brain of patient, holding in hands.

Area schools and universities have begun workouts for the new football season. Concussions resulting from contact sports like football are treatable — but the approach has changed over the years.

KERA’s Sam Baker talked with Dr. Erin Reynolds, clinical director of Baylor Scott & White’s sports concussion program about how treatment has evolved.

Interview Highlights:

How Doctors Used To Treat Concussion

Fifteen years ago, we were telling people to go home, stay in the dark. Don't get out of bed until you feel better. Avoid all activity. We now know that not only doesn't help the brain to recover, but as human beings, it makes us feel worse. You start to have mood changes and your sleep schedule is disrupted.

>>The Current Approach:

We try to get people back to their normal activities as soon as possible without making them feel sick. For every person that's going to look very different. Not everyone is going to feel motion sick, or have migraine headaches, or have mood changes. The treatment has to reflect what the individual's experiencing.

Determining The Right Treatment

We use a team approach: I'm a clinical psychologist with specialty training in neuropsychology, which is the relationship between the brain and behavior. And I work with a sports medicine physician, and a physical therapist fellowship trained in neurologic physical therapy.

A Three-tiered Approach In Evaluations

  • Talking to the patient and understanding what he or she is experiencing.
  • Computer based neurocognitive testing
  • Use of the vestibular ocular motor screen to evaluate head and eye movements.

Actual Treatment

The treatments would be physical therapy. Some patients do wind up meeting medication, especially those who are having chronic headaches or some mood changes or suite changes. And then the rest is working with folks to modify their day to day activities to accommodate their symptoms.


BSW Concussion Treatment Program

Concussion & Traumatic Brain Injury

Concussion: Causes & Symptoms

Got a tip? Email Sam Baker at You can follow him on Twitter @srbkera.

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Sam Baker is KERA's senior editor and local host for Morning Edition. The native of Beaumont, Texas, also edits and produces radio commentaries and Vital Signs, a series that's part of the station's Breakthroughs initiative. He also was the longtime host of KERA 13’s Emmy Award-winning public affairs program On the Record. He also won an Emmy in 2008 for KERA’s Sharing the Power: A Voter’s Voice Special, and has earned honors from the Associated Press and the Public Radio News Directors Inc.