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What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild brain injury caused by trauma to the head that can temporarily change the way the brain normally functions, including changes in mental status and level of consciousness. A concussion can be caused by a blow or jolt directly to the head, or to the body, that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. Concussions are usually not life-threatening but their effects can be serious.

Dangers of Concussions and How They Are Treated

NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Rupinder Johal, MD explains the dangers of concussions and how they are treated in this Ask The Doctor Series video.

Signs and Symptoms

Most signs and symptoms of a concussion occur shortly after an injury and may affect:


  • Memory loss
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating


  • More Emotional
  • Sad or Depressed

Physical body

  • Headache
  • Change in vision
  • Nausea/vomiting


  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Sleeping more or less than normal

Sometimes an injury can be more serious than a concussion. Danger signs of a serious brain injury include:

  • Worsening headaches
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Slurred speech

The individual must be taken to the emergency department as soon as possible if experiencing any of these warning signs.
NYU Winthrop Hospital’s Concussion Clinic uses a multidisciplinary team approach to effectively diagnose, treat and manage an individual through the process of a concussion. The Clinic aims to return patients back to activity safely. The integrated team consists of:

  • Sports Medicine Physicians
  • Athletic Trainers
  • Physical Therapists
  • Otolaryngologist for Vestibular Issues

Initial Assessment

At the first appointment, the clinic’s sports medicine physician will perform a thorough clinical exam including reviewing physical and neurocognitive deficits. Since balance is often greatly affected after a concussion, the clinic utilizes Biodex, a balance assessment tool that combines cognitive and functional objective testing. Biodex provides clinicians an objective neurophysical component which quantifies the elements of balance before and after an injury occurs.


Following the initial assessment, each patient will have a personalized treatment plan, which may include Concussion Specific Physical Therapy such as Vestibular Rehabilitation and balance retraining. If deemed necessary, the patient will be referred for further neuropsychological testing. Additional consultations, as needed, are available for Otolaryngology, Radiology and Psychology.

“Return to Play” Program

To minimize the chances of a concussion reoccurrence, our clinic provides a “Return to Play” Program, which is required by NY State Law to clear High School athletes to return to their activity/sport after they have experienced a concussion.
The“Return to Play” Program begins once a patient is free of any symptoms for 24 hours and is cleared by their doctor. The program is personalized for each individual and follows “Return to Play Progression” adapted by Inter­national Concussion Consensus Guidelines, involving gradual return to play. Physical therapists and athletic trainers work with patients through each step of the program. The progression into sport will take about a week if the athlete remains symptom-free throughout the protocol.

  • Neurologists
  • Neuropsychologists
  • Radiologists
  • Psychologists
  • Difficulty remembering new information
  • Feeling in a fog/ unable to think clearly
  • Feeling tired/low energy
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Dizziness/problems with balance
  • Anxious
  • Irritable
  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Confusion or irregular behavior
  • Drowsiness/cannot be awakened
  • Change in coordination/balance

See our Coach/Parent Guide for Return to Play.
To learn more, or to make an appointment, please call 516-663-9099.