A concussion is a traumatic brain injury.

If you suffer a blow to your head or body, a fall or another injury that jars or shakes your brain inside your skull, a concussion is possible. While any number of activities can lead to a concussion, they are increasingly common in sports – especially football, basketball, soccer and boxing. 

Quick, accurate diagnosis and treatment of a concussion is vital. If not managed properly, a concussion could lead to long-term health problems, or even death. 

Evaluation

Athletic trainers are on-hand at local sporting events to do an initial assessment if a player hits their head. The athlete is then referred to a physician for a more thorough exam. It’s recommended that a possible concussion be assessed within 24 hours of the impact. 

To evaluate for a concussion, a physician will ask you questions about your injury. They may ask you questions that test your ability to pay attention, and test your learning and memory. Your physician may also try to find out how quickly you can solve problems. Then they will check your strength, balance, coordination, reflexes and sensation. Sometimes a physician will order imaging tests such as a CT scan or a MRI to make sure your brain isn’t bruised or bleeding. 

Symptoms

It isn’t always easy to know if someone has a concussion. Symptoms range from mild to severe and can last for hours, days, weeks or even months. If you notice ANY symptoms of a concussion, contact your physician. 

Symptoms Can Include:
Symptoms Can Include: not thinking clearly feeling slowed down unable to concentrate
Symptoms Can Include: unable to remember new information headache fuzzy or blurry vision
Symptoms Can Include: nausea and vomiting dizziness sensitivity to light or noise
Symptoms Can Include: balance problems feeling tired/low-energy easily upset or angered
Symptoms Can Include: sad nervous or anxious more emotional
Symptoms Can Include: sleeping more than usual sleeping less difficulty falling asleep

Prevention

If you experience a concussion, you’re more likely to experience another because less force is needed to jar your brain. We recommend you wait a minimum of a week AFTER your symptoms have completely ended before participating in sports again. 

If a second concussion occurs before your symptoms from the first concussion are resolved, it’s called Second Impact Syndrome. The consequences may be very serious. Long-term cognitive and physical effects – and in rare cases, death – may occur. 

Repeated concussions may require surgery or lead to long-lasting problems with movement, learning or speaking. Because of the small chance of permanent brain problems, it’s important to contact a physician if you or someone you know has symptoms of a concussion.