Treatment and Rehabilitation for Severe Concussions

What is a complex concussion?

Illustration visually depicting affect of complex concussion rehabilitation on the brainA sudden jolt or blow to the head can cause mild traumatic brain injury, commonly known as a concussion. Typically, concussions resolve within a week or two as headaches and other symptoms subside. Patients return to work, school or the playing field, often feeling as capable as they did before their injury. But about 20 percent of cases present a more difficult scenario, with concussion complications that fall beyond the scope of primary care physicians.

Specialized Rehabilitation for Complex Concussions

Concussions affect different brain networks, so quickly addressing the range of impairments improves the patient’s recovery. At Shepherd Center’s Complex Concussion Clinic, patients receive comprehensive assessment and treatment by a team of specialists in neurology, vestibular and balance disorders, athletic training, rehabilitation medicine, neuropsychology and neurosurgery. The Complex Concussion Clinic streamlines care by providing interdisciplinary resources at a single site. The patient evaluation includes cognitive, ocular-motor, vestibular and balance testing, and, when needed, assessments with other diagnostic technologies, including advanced imaging. The Complex Concussion Clinic accepts patients 12 years old and up.

The Complex Concussion Clinic care team meets to develop a personalized treatment plan. Complex concussion patients may experience problems with:

  • Balance
  • Pain
  • Mood
  • Attention
  • Light sensitivity
  • Sleep

The Complex Concussion Clinic treats athletes who want to return to their sport, students who are missing school or employees who are losing time from work. The clinic’s extensive program provides recreation therapy, cognitive therapy, occupational therapy, psychological counseling, vestibular therapy for dizziness and balance, and athletic training.

Download our fact sheet about the Complex Concussion Clinic.

Get treatment at the Complex Concussion Clinic with a referral by your frontline provider, such as a sports medicine, emergency room or primary care physician, or athletic trainer. Referral is appropriate for patients who experience:

  • Dizziness, balance problems and nausea lasting more than a few days after the injury
  • Protracted difficulty with concentration, memory, dizziness and difficulty sleeping two to three weeks after injury
  • Extended recovery from a prior concussion
  • Migraine, attention deficits or other learning challenges

We strive to return patients to their full activity and performance level as quickly and as safely as possible. While cognitive rest may be necessary for up to 48 hours after injury, we determine when patients need active therapy to prevent long-term complications and to spark recovery. We seek the best outcome for every patient while minimizing the use of medications, which can mask symptoms and cause side effects that impede progress.

Treatment duration varies based on individual needs, but typically involves outpatient visits for eight to 12 weeks. We serve adolescents, as well as adults, in our 4,000-square-foot therapy space, which has state-of-the-art equipment for strengthening, athletic conditioning and balance, oculomotor training and gait training.

The Complex Concussion Clinic builds on the experiences of clinicians in Shepherd Center’s SHARE Military Initiative, which provides care for service men and women who sustained mild to moderate traumatic brain injury. Their injuries are usually blast-related – as opposed to the sports injuries, falls and motor vehicle accidents that comprise most of the cases seen by the Complex Concussion Clinic. But much has been learned from the successful rehabilitation of our military clients.

Shepherd Center also has a long history of supporting professional, collegiate and youth sports teams. Using telemedicine, our specialists consult with coaches, athletes, parents and school officials to ensure safe return to play. We also assist in designing temporary accommodations as needed to enable patients to return to school or work.

Complex concussions can be troubling for patients and medically challenging for frontline physicians. Our focused approach to care can significantly reduce recovery time and improve patient outcomes.

Read more about the Complex Concussion Clinic and learn more about Dr. Russell Gore, Medical Director of the Complex Concussion Clinic.

Contact the Complex Concussion Clinic

Get in touch with Shepherd Center’s Complex Concussion Clinic by calling 404-603-4300 or emailing Cheryl Appleberry at cheryl.appleberry@shepherd.org. Locate us at:

Complex Concussion Clinic
Shepherd Center (off-campus location)
80 Peachtree Park Drive
Atlanta, GA 30309

Download a map with directions to the Complex Concussion Clinic building.