Concussion Guidelines

Bay Area Concussion and Brain Injury Program at UCSF

Information for Referring Physicians

We are the region's premier resource for evaluating head injuries and providing the right treatments to keep young athletes safe and healthy as they recover from injuries.

Our team, including clinicians from UCSF Medical Center, UCSF Benioff Children's Hospital San Francisco and San Francisco General Hospital, are among the nation's top experts on concussion and brain injury. Specialists from sports medicine, physical medicine and rehabilitation, neuropsychology, neuroradiology, neurology and neurosurgery are all part of our multidisciplinary team. Because of this combined expertise, we have the ability to evaluate, diagnose and manage any level of brain trauma. Our goal is to help families safely return their kids to school and sports after concussion.

Clinical Indicators for a Referral

A sports concussion is a brain injury and can be serious. Concussions require immediate recognition and proper management. Getting help soon after an injury by trained specialists in rehabilitation may speed recovery. Consider referring your patient to our program if he or she has suffered a blow to the head, neck or body and is experiencing one or more of the following:

  • Confusion
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering things
  • Dizziness or problems with balance or coordination
  • Headaches
  • Insomnia or excessive sleepiness
  • Nausea

How to Refer

You may refer a patient or school athlete directly to our program by calling (415) 353-1915 or faxing a referral to (415) 514-6075.

Clinic Location:

UCSF Orthopedic Institute at Mission Bay

1500 Owens St., Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1915
Fax: (415) 514-6075
Hours: Monday through Friday, 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.
Maps and directions:

Recommendations for Patients

If you have referred your patient to our program for further evaluation, it is critical that he or she adhere to the following instructions while waiting to be evaluated by a concussion specialist to give the brain time to heal and avoid further injury:

Tips to Aid Recovery

  • Get plenty of sleep and rest, which helps the brain to heal.
  • Stay well hydrated by drinking plenty of fluids.
  • Write down anything that may be harder than usual to remember.
  • If you're easily distracted, try to do one thing at a time. For example, don't try to watch TV while eating dinner.

Restricted Activities

  • Sports, work, school or recreational activities are restricted until a concussion specialist gives you clearance to resume these activities. Your brain needs time to heal and it's critical that you don't experience another concussion. A repeat concussion can be very dangerous, slow recovery or increase the chance for serious problems.
  • Physically demanding activities (e.g., sports, heavy housecleaning, exercising) or those that require a lot of concentration (e.g., working on the computer, playing video games).
  • Sustained computer use, including computer/video games.
  • Drive a car, ride a bike, or operate heavy equipment until after a concussion specialist gives you clearance. This is because your reaction time may be slower after a concussion.
  • Drink alcoholic beverages until your doctor says you are well enough. Alcohol and other drugs may slow recovery and put you at risk of further injury.

Treating Physical Symptoms

  • Take the recommended dose of pain relief medications (e.g., Tylenol, Ibuprofen or Motrin) as needed for physical symptoms related to concussion such as headache.

Program Highlights and Services

  • Multidisciplinary team approach to all head injury care, involving experts from a wide range of specialties in one place, on the same day.
  • Through UCSF's PlaySafe Program, we work with school districts across the San Francisco Bay Area to treat and raise awareness about concussion and brain injury. Athletes at participating schools receive:
    • Comprehensive evaluation by a sports medicine physician trained in concussion management
    • A detailed step-by-step, return-to-play progression program
    • Consultation and communication with the school's certified athletic trainer

Innovation and Research

Members of our team are engaged in numerous research projects focused on understanding brain injury and recovery. Their work has been published in multiple medical books and journals. For more information on the latest brain injury research and treatment innovations, visit


Reviewed by health care specialists at UCSF Medical Center.

This information is for educational purposes only and is not intended to replace the advice of your doctor or health care provider. We encourage you to discuss with your doctor any questions or concerns you may have.

Related Information

UCSF Clinics & Centers

Sports Concussion Program
1500 Owens St., Second Floor
San Francisco, CA 94158
Phone: (415) 353-1915
Fax: (415) 514-6075