What are the Signs of a Concussion?

Signs of a Concussion well a Concussion is a condition that occurs as a result of a mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI). It involves the short suspension of the brain’s normal function as it responds to the impact of an injury to the head – such as a knock or fall.

A concussion can result from any injury in which the brain is jolted from its usual position to the extent that it hits the inner wall of the skull. This trauma can stretch or damage brain cells.[1] This means that, after trauma, it becomes increasingly likely that the normal movements of the brain inside the skull, which would normally not cause any damage to the brain, could go on to result in bruising and bleeding.

It is sometimes possible to see the outward signs of concussion, such as dizziness, nausea, or confusion. In the immediate aftermath of the causal injury, concussion itself is initially a microscopic injury to the brain which will not be visually evident if the brain is scanned, e.g. by doing a CT scan. For this reason, many cases of concussion go unnoticed or undiagnosed.

People do not always exhibit or notice the physical or behavioral symptoms of concussion, so it is important to look out for signs of concussion in all cases where a person has sustained an injury to the head. Although people experiencing concussions may display perceptible symptoms such as nausea, headaches, and slurred speech, these may only begin to occur several hours or days after the injury itself.

It is important to see a doctor following an injury to the head to assess the likelihood of a concussion and devise a recovery plan.[2] Recovery techniques will focus on resting sufficiently and avoiding strenuous physical and mental activity, to allow the brain to recuperate, thereby limiting the likelihood of any possible concussion developing into a long-term condition.

Signs of concussion in adults and teenagers

A concussion can cause a person to experience a temporary loss of consciousness, lasting for seconds, or minutes. Not everybody who experiences a concussion loses consciousness, but, in cases where the loss of consciousness does occur, the longer a person who has sustained a head injury remains unconscious, the more severe their concussion is likely to be.[3] Medical attention should be sought in all cases where an injury to the head has resulted in the loss of consciousness.

In addition to a possible loss of consciousness, a person with a concussion may experience one or more of the symptoms from this checklist:[4]

  • Feeling confused
  • Feeling as though one is in a blur or fog
  • Forgetfulness, often extending to the circumstances which caused the concussion
  • Headache
  • Feeling pressure in the head
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Seeing stars
  • Slurred speech
  • Nausea
  • Dizziness

Many people recover from concussions unaided, without necessarily noticing that they have experienced the condition. However, it is possible to develop post-concussion syndrome, where the symptoms of concussion persist for weeks, months, or years after the injury took place. To ensure a full recovery from concussion and prevent this outcome with appropriate aftercare, it is important to look out for signs of concussion in anybody who has experienced a head injury.

Read more about concussion »

How long after a head injury do signs of concussion appear?

It is very common for additional symptoms of a concussion to appear in the hours or days after the causal injury. The time it takes for the signs of concussion to be present after a head injury varies considerably between people. One may be able to see some symptoms, such as a temporary loss of consciousness, in the immediate time after the primary injury. Further signs of concussion, such as nausea or dizziness, can begin to appear within minutes or can be delayed, or go unnoticed, for hours or days after the causal injury.

Symptoms of a concussion that may appear later on include:[5]

  • Irritable mood and changes in personality
  • Sensitivity to light, noise and other external stimuli
  • Reduced ability to concentrate
  • Poor memory
  • Difficulty sleeping
  • Changes to the senses of taste and smell
  • Depression

If you’re unsure whether you or somebody else, is showing signs of concussion after a recent head injury, try Checking the Adoctor conditions and symptoms for a free symptom assessment.

Signs of concussion in children

While adults and teenagers tend to experience some or all of the symptoms of concussion listed above, it can be difficult to spot the signs of concussion in children, toddlers, and babies, especially as they may not be able to verbalize how they are feeling.

It is therefore vital that caregivers remain alert to the possibility that any children or infants who have experienced an injury to the head could be at risk of concussion. Monitor kids who have sustained a head injury for the signs of concussion associated with their age group and seek medical attention in all cases of a suspected concussion.[6]

Signs of concussion in babies

Signs of concussion in babies may include:

  • A bump or bruise to the head
  • Changed sleeping habits; sleeping more or less can both be indicators of concussion
  • Crying when the head is moved
  • Vomiting
  • Changes in mood, especially increased irritability
  • Difficulty feeding

Signs of concussion in toddlers

Toddlers who can talk will generally be able to indicate whether they are feeling different from normal. This can help establish whether a toddler may have a concussion.

Signs of concussion in toddlers may include:

  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Behavioral changes
  • Loss of interest in their usual activities
  • Sleeping more or less
  • Excessive crying
  • Headache

Signs of concussion in children (aged two and above)

Children aged two and above tend to display more behavioral changes related to concussions, similar to those experienced by adults.

Signs of concussion in children may include:

  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Double vision
  • Dizziness, nausea and/or vomiting
  • Drowsiness
  • Irritability
  • Difficulty balancing
  • Sleeping more or less
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor memory
  • Confusion about recent events
  • Changes in mood, especially sadness or nervousness

Causes of concussion

A concussion is the most common kind of mild traumatic brain injury. It occurs as the result of a knock or jolt to the head, which causes the brain to move from its normal position inside the skull, damaging the cells in the affected area. Activities that may result in head injuries, such as driving motor vehicles and playing sports, increase one’s chances of experiencing a concussion. Knocking one’s head as a result of falling over can also result in concussion and is a principal cause of concussion in infants and the elderly.

The leading causes of concussion recorded by emergency departments are:[2]

  • Falling
  • Injuries related to motor vehicles
  • Accidentally being struck by or against an object
  • Assaults
  • Playing sports

According to the Journal of Athletic Training, approximately 300, 000 sport-related traumatic brain injuries occur in the United States annually, of which the majority are concussions. Motor vehicle crashes are the second most common cause of traumatic brain injury among people aged 15 to 24 years, and the most common cause of concussion across all age groups.[3]

When to seek medical attention after a head injury

Many people make a rapid and full recovery from concussions. Nevertheless, it is important to consult a doctor in all cases where the condition is suspected. Failing to rest and recuperate adequately when one has a concussion can lead to the development of post-concussion syndrome, where the signs of concussion persist for weeks or months after the initial injury.

Seek immediate medical attention in all cases where:

  • A person of any age is feeling or behaving differently after sustaining an injury to the head, even if only one or two of the signs of concussion are apparent
  • A child has experienced any kind of head injury that is more significant than a slight bump to the head,[7] i.e. any injury which causes bruising or bleeding or causes the child to indicate that they are experiencing pain

There is usually no need to seek medical attention for a suspected concussion after a minor head injury if a person of any age:

  • Remains alert
  • Has not been unconscious for any amount of time
  • Responds normally to speech
  • Is not dizzy, nauseous, or displaying any other age-appropriate indicators of concussion

Concussion danger signs

A person affected by a concussion involving a temporary loss of consciousness and/or a period of post-traumatic amnesia will need immediate medical attention to establish the impact of their traumatic brain injury (TBI) on their brain, and to devise a recovery plan.

Returning to day-to-day activities, especially playing sports, while suffering from an initial concussion can worsen its physiological and psychological impact, and can also increase the risk of incurring a second concussion or developing post-concussion syndrome.[8]

Emergency care should be sought after a head injury if a person of any age presents with any of the concussion danger signs, which include:[9][10]

  • Losing consciousness for more than 30 seconds[11]
  • Having headaches repeatedly, or which worsen over time
  • Visible and persistent bumps, bruising or swelling anywhere on the head, particularly in children and infants
  • Nausea and vomiting getting worse instead of better
  • Becoming increasingly irritable over a number of days following the injury
  • Stumbling or being clumsy
  • Feeling disorientated, confused or experiencing difficulty recognizing familiar concepts
  • Slurred or altered speech
  • Seizures
  • Distorted vision and blurriness
  • Dilated pupils or pupils of different sizes

Additional concussion danger signs in babies and toddlers may include:[10]

  • Refusing to nurse or eat
  • Inconsolable crying

If any of the concussion danger signs are present, seek immediate medical attention. Any of these symptoms may indicate that the kind of head injury sustained is more serious than a concussion. For example, in rare cases, a collection of blood, called a hematoma, can form inside the head following a blow or bump, squeezing the brain against the skull.[10]

Concussion FAQs

u003cstrongu003eIs it safe for someone to fall asleep if they have signs of a concussion?u003c/strongu003e

u003cstrongu003eYes. It is a myth that it is dangerous to fall asleep following a concussion.u003c/strongu003e It was once believed that falling asleep after becoming concussed could result in slipping into a coma, but this idea has been discredited by medical research.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4968u0026amp;action=edit#fn12u0022u003e[12]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003eu003cbru003eu003cbru003eGetting plenty of rest is of principal importance in recovering from a concussion and allowing the trauma to the brain to heal. Consulting a doctor, followed by sleeping and/or resting is the best course of action for anyone affected by concussion unless the doctor has advised that the concussed person needs to undergo further treatment related to the TBI.

u003cstrongu003eIs it possible to tell whether a person has a mild or severe concussion?u003c/strongu003e

Symptoms such as loss of consciousness slurred or altered speech, or confusion, persistent nausea, and vomiting in the immediate aftermath of a concussion, may be signs that a person has been severely concussed, or has another, more serious form of head injury.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eIn diagnosing concussion, doctors once used grading systems to establish whether a person’s condition was slight or severe, particularly in sports medicine. The grading system would typically be used with the end goal of determining how much recovery time an injured player would need before returning to play.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe use of grading systems is now less common, but a popular and scientifically proven means of assessing concussions is the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS). The GCS is a practical test for assessing how greatly a person’s consciousness is impaired. It can be used for all patients that have any kind of impairment of consciousness, including concussions. It is routinely used to screen a person’s neurological state if any kind of trauma to the head is suspected, for example, after an accident.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eThe GCS can help monitor the course of a person’s symptoms over time and can help doctors in selecting appropriate treatment for a person to make a full recovery, for example, whether they will need emergency care or a breathing tube (intubation). As standard practice, doctors will evaluate concussions and advise on a recovery program on a case-by-case basis, taking all of a person’s symptoms and case history into account.

u003cstrongu003eWhat changes to the pupils in the eyes could be signs of a concussion?u003c/strongu003e

Dilated pupils or pupils of unequal sizes could indicate that a person is affected by a severe concussion or a more serious form of TBI than a concussion. However, this only applies if the difference in size between the pupils is greater than one millimeter. Differences in size between pupils of between half a millimeter and one millimeter are completely normal and quite common.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eu003cstrongu003eConcussion and other forms of TBI can prevent the eyes from focussing easily on relevant objects, and/or working as a pair.u003c/strongu003e To identify this, eye movement tracking tests are sometimes performed in the diagnosis of a concussion. These are activities, such as watching moving objects on a screen, which test the reflexes of the pupils.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4968u0026amp;action=edit#fn13u0022u003e[13]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e

u003cstrongu003eHow long do the signs of a u003c/strongu003econcussion last?

In most people, perceptible symptoms of concussion resolve within around two weeks. A recent study on the effect of cognitive activity level on the duration of post-concussion symptoms has revealed that the more one rests one’s brain ‒ including refraining from activities such as using computers and smartphones ‒ during the period after a concussion, the more quickly normal brain function will be restored.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eWhen a post-concussion syndrome is not present, full recovery from concussion ‒ including the physical recovery of the brain from the injury, which will be imperceptible to the affected person ‒ can take as long as up to 100 days. The time it takes to recover from a u003cstrongu003econcussion can be significantly reduced, to around 20 or 30 days, by ensuring that one refrains from returning to one’s normal day-to-day activities and rests appropriately.u003c/strongu003eu003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4968u0026amp;action=edit#fn14u0022u003e[14]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e

u003cstrongu003eHow long should I lookoutu003c/strongu003e for the signs of concussion after a head injury?

In some, cases, signs of a concussion may appear in the immediate aftermath of a concussion. For other people, signs of a concussion may not appear straight away and may develop in the days or weeks following the primary injury. It is therefore important to be aware that any symptoms experienced later on may be signs of concussion and to have them investigated by a doctor.

u003cstrongu003eWhat is u003c/strongu003epost-concussion syndrome (PCS)?

Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) is a rare condition in which people continue to experience symptoms related to their concussion for weeks, months, or even years if left untreated after the injury that led to their concussion. These may include sleeping problems, difficulty remembering things, fatigue, dizziness, headaches, depression, and sensitivity to noise and light. Treatment will involve addressing the specific symptoms that each person with PCS experiences. With appropriate medical supervision, PCS relieves over time in most cases.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/conditions/post-concussion-syndrome/u0022u003eRead more about Post-concussion Syndrome »u003c/au003e

u003cstrongu003eWhat can a person do to facilitate effective recovery from a u003c/strongu003econcussion?

The most important element of recovering from a concussion is allowing the brain to rest, both through getting sufficient sleep and ensuring that one takes a break from one’s normal working or school hours and sporting activities.u003cbru003eu003cbru003eu003cstrongu003eReturning to work or school before the brain has recovered to the point where symptoms are no longer present can increase the chances of prolonging the concussion.u003c/strongu003e If the symptoms of concussion return, this may be an indicator that one has rushed the recovery process and returned to one’s usual routine too soon. Medical attention should then be sought and a revised recovery plan devised.u003csupu003eu003ca href=u0022https://adoctor.org/wp-admin/post.php?post=4968u0026amp;action=edit#fn15u0022u003e[15]u003c/au003eu003c/supu003e

  1. What is a concussion?”. US Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 24 October 2013. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  2. Facts about concussion and brain injury: where to get help.” US Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 2010. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  3. Concussions Among United States High School and Collegiate Athletes.” Journal of Athletic Training. October – December 2007. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  4. Signs and Symptoms of Concussion.” US Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 22 March 2017. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  5. Mild traumatic brain injury: a neuropsychiatric approach to diagnosis, evaluation, and treatment.” Neuropsychiatric Disease and Treatment. December 2005. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  6. Academic Effects of Concussion in Children and Adolescents.” American Academy of Pediatrics. 11 May 2015. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  7. Office management of mild head injury in children and adolescents.” CFP MFC: Official Publication of the College of Family Physicians of Canada. June 2014. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  8. Cerebral Concussion: Causes, Effects, and Risks in Sports.” Journal of Athletic Training. July – September 2001. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  9. Concussion.” American Association of Neurological Surgeons. 2017. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  10. Concussion danger signs.” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. 16 February 2015. Accessed: 16 July 2018.

  11. Traumatic Alterations in Consciousness: Traumatic Brain Injury.” Emerging Medical Clinicians of North America. 28 August 2010. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  12. Is it safe to sleep if you have a concussion?.” University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences. 2017. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  13. Concussion: eye movements help in assessment of head injury.” Waterdown Optometric Clinic. 2018. Accessed: 16 July 2018.

  14. Effect of Cognitive Activity Level on Duration of Post-Concussion Symptoms.” American Academy of Pediatrics. 06 January 2014. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

  15. Recovery.” US Department of Health and Human Services, Centres for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). 22 January 2016. Accessed: 20 October 2017.

## Q&A: Signs⁣ of a Concussion

### What is a Concussion?

A concussion ‌is a type of mild traumatic brain injury​ (mTBI) ‍that occurs when the‍ brain is subjected to sudden force or acceleration, leading to a brief disruption of normal brain function.

### What ⁣are the Signs of a Concussion?

Recognizing the signs of a concussion is crucial. If you or someone you know has ​experienced a head injury, watch ⁣for these symptoms:

**Immediate Symptoms:**

* Loss⁤ of consciousness (brief or lasting)

* Confusion⁤ or disorientation

* Memory loss (difficulty remembering what happened before, during, or after the⁢ injury)

* Headache

* Nausea or vomiting

* Difficulty concentrating or thinking clearly

* Dizziness or balance problems

**Signs That May​ Develop Within Hours or Days:**

* Sensitivity to light or sound

* Vision⁤ changes (blurred or double vision, sensitivity⁢ to light)

* Sleep disturbances (difficulty⁤ falling or staying asleep)

* Mood changes (irritability, anxiety, depression)

*⁤ Persistent headache

* Persistent nausea

*⁢ Balance problems

* Neurological deficits ⁢(weakness, numbness, difficulty coordinating)

### How⁤ Can a Concussion Be Diagnosed?

Diagnosing a concussion requires a thorough physical and neurological examination by a qualified healthcare professional. The doctor may ask about symptoms, conduct cognitive tests, and perform imaging tests such as CT scans or MRI scans to rule out‌ other potential ⁢brain injuries.

### When Should You Seek ⁢Medical Attention ‍for a Head Injury?

Seek immediate medical‌ attention for any head injury that‌ results in:

* Loss of consciousness

* Seizures

* Worsening symptoms

* Signs of a skull fracture (tenderness or bruising ⁢around the eyes ⁣or ears, clear fluid draining from the nose ⁢or ears)

### ⁣What is the Treatment for a Concussion?

Concussions usually resolve within a few weeks, but recovery varies depending on the severity of⁣ the injury.​ Treatment typically involves:

* Rest and avoiding ‌strenuous activity

* Medication for pain or headaches

* Gradual return to ‍normal⁣ activity under medical supervision

### How Can You Prevent a Concussion?

Preventing ⁣concussions is crucial, especially during high-risk activities such ⁢as sports:

* Wear a helmet‌ when ⁣participating in sports or engaging in activities where falls are possible.

* Avoid unnecessary risks and hazardous situations.

* Teach children safe play practices.

* Recognize and report ⁤any signs of a concussion.

Remember,⁤ if⁤ you suspect a concussion, seek medical attention immediately and follow the⁢ doctor’s recommendations⁣ for ⁤recovery.

One comment

  1. Concussion signs include headaches, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to light or noise, inability to concentrate, loss of memory, tiredness or lethargy, dizziness or balance issues, clumsiness or impaired coordination, confusion, irritability, and difficulty sleeping.

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