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Concussion Care at Mayo Clinic

Mayo Clinic is a strong proponent of competition and sport. We understand, and many of our members have experienced, the incredible impacts sports have on an individual, family, team, school and community. It is our hope to provide the most researched and validated information and tools necessary to advance sport safety.

Mayo Clinic providers are experienced in evaluating and treating people who've had a traumatic brain injury, including concussions. Mayo Clinic's signature multidisciplinary care is modeled in our acute concussion treatment and includes doctors trained in sports medicine, neurology, psychology, vestibular audiology, physical medicine and rehabilitation. Together, the health providers establish a diagnosis, develop a treatment plan and provide recommendations for Return to Learn and Return to Play.

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Return to Learn and Play Protocol

Mayo Clinic concussion specialists work with student athletes and their school to design individually tailored return to learn and school accommodation plans. Mayo Clinic provides a comprehensive evaluation for diagnosis and management of concussions. Our resources include:

  1. Sports Medicine (physicians and athletic trainers)
  2. Neurology
  3. Neuropsychology
  4. Psychology
  5. Physical Therapy
  6. Occupational Therapy
  7. Speech Therapy
  8. Cognitive Rehabilitation
  9. Vestibular Audiology
  10. Psychiatry
  11. Biofeedback
  12. Exercise Physiology

Your initial "in-office" concussion evaluation is completed by a qualified medical provider and then recommends additional evaluations by other health care specialists as required. Your first visit with a Mayo Clinic concussion specialist includes the completion of the;

  1. Graded Symptom Checklist,
  2. Standardized Assessment of Concussion (SAC),
  3. Timed-Tandem-Gait (Balance test),
  4. Eye-movement testing (King Devick Test), and
  5. Computerized cognitive assessment (Cognigram / ImPact).

If indicated, further testing will be performed to assist our concussion team to better manage your symptoms and direct appropriate rehabilitation and management. Further testing may include;

  1. Additional neuropsychological testing,
  2. Vestibular testing,
  3. Autonomic testing, and
  4. MRI Brain Concussion Protocol.

Together, the health care specialists establish a diagnosis, develop a treatment plan and provide recommendations for return-to-learn and return-to-play.

While appropriate management of concussion is highly individualized, athletes are typically seen in our Return to Play Clinic every one-to-two weeks until they are fully cleared to return to play or are referred to appropriate rehabilitative therapies if they are slow to recover.

Important to note: The majority of athletes are gradually returned to learn and play over the course of 3 weeks following the injury.

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Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Care at Mayo Clinic

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is the term used to describe brain degeneration likely caused by repeated head traumas. CTE is a diagnosis only made at autopsy by studying sections of the brain.

CTE is a very rare condition. It has been found in the brains of people who played contact sports, such as football, as well as others. Some symptoms of CTE are thought to include difficulties with thinking (cognition), physical problems, emotions and other behaviors.

CTE is a very controversial condition that is still not well-understood. Researchers do not yet know the frequency of CTE in the population and do not understand the causes. There is no cure for CTE.


Some of the possible signs and symptoms of CTE may include:

  • Difficulty thinking (cognitive impairment)
  • Impulsive behavior
  • Depression or apathy
  • Short-term memory loss
  • Difficulty planning and carrying out tasks (executive function)
  • Emotional instability
  • Substance abuse
  • Suicidal thoughts or behavior

Other suspected symptoms may include:

  • Irritability
  • Aggression
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Motor impairment, such as difficulty walking, tremor, loss of muscle movement, weakness or rigidity
  • Trouble swallowing (dysphagia)
  • Vision and focusing problems
  • Trouble with sense of smell (olfactory abnormalities)
  • Dementia

Having associated CTE symptoms does not mean a person has CTE. The symptoms associated with CTE are similar to other health issues. Patients experiencing mental, emotional and behavioral symptoms should seek medical care from a qualified team specializing in traumatic brain injury (TBI) rehabilitation with focus on the patient and family's physical, mental, emotional and spiritually well being.

When to see a doctor

Regardless of the underlying cause, see your doctor if you are experiencing symptoms noted above.

  • Suicidal thoughts. Research shows that people with CTE may be at increased risk of suicide. People diagnosed with CTE at post-mortem brain biopsy may have committed suicide, but most suicides are not associated with CTE.
  • Head injury. See your doctor if you have had a head injury, even if you didn't need emergency care. If your child has received a head injury that concerns you, call your child's doctor immediately. Depending on the signs and symptoms, your doctor may recommend seeking immediate medical care.
  • Memory problems. See your doctor if you have concerns about your memory or other thinking (cognitive) or behavior problems.
  • Personality or mood changes. See your doctor if depression, anxiety, aggression or impulsivity occur.



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