Signs and Symptoms of Concussion | Neurology


What is a concussion?

A concussion is a severe traumatic brain injury that occurs in a blow, a violent jolt, or a blow to the head that turns the regular functioning of the brain. A blow to your body also causes a mild traumatic brain injury, forcing your head to move backward, forward, or sideways.

A concussion can be mild or severe. It can have serious effects, including damage to brain cells. It also affects the chemicals in your brain and body.

Some experts have defined a mild traumatic brain injury as a head injury caused by a temporary loss of brain function that causes cognitive, physical, and emotional symptoms.

Alternate name

  • Mild Brain Injury
  • Mild Traumatic Brain Injury
  • Mild Head Injury

Causes of concussion

Brain tissue is soft and flexible. It is surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid, which acts as a cushion between it and the tight protective outer skull. When your brain bounces or spins inside your skull or experiences a rapid, whiplash-like movement back and forth, it causes it to form inside your skull. This brain movement expands and damages brain cells and leads to chemical changes in the brain.

Concussions are most commonly caused by:

  • Automobile accidents
  • Sports injuries
  • Falls
  • Horseback riding accident
  • Playground accidents
  • Cycling accidents
  • Assaults
  • Explosions

Risk factors for concussion

  • Older people and children ages 4 and under due to their chance of falls.
  • Adolescents due to bike adventures and sports-related head wounds.
  • Military personnel due to exposure to explosive devices.
  • Anyone involved in a car accident.
  • Victims of physical abuse.
  • Anyone who has had a previous mild traumatic brain injury.

Symptoms of concussion

Most people with a concussion stay awake after being injured. However, some people may lose consciousness. Symptoms of a concussion appear immediately. They appear even after a few hours or days. Symptoms include:

  • Headache or pressure in your head
  • Trouble focusing
  • Memory loss
  • Dazed appearance
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Blurry vision
  • Trouble hearing
  • Slow response to questions
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Changes in mood or behavior
  • Variations in sleep, including difficulty falling asleep or sleeping more than normal

If you have a concussion, get help right away for the following. Someone should help you ask for help.

  • Symptoms that get more serious, such as headaches
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Inability to wake up
  • Ongoing confusion
  • Trouble speaking, walking or making eye contact
  • Weakness or numbness in your arms or legs
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Seizures

Diagnosis of concussion

To diagnose a concussion, your doctor will likely ask you a variety of questions. Be sure to report if you lose consciousness and to report other symptoms. The doctor also wants to know how the injury occurred and where the head was hit.

You may be asked questions to test your memory and do certain things to show how well your brain is working. Your doctor may also ask your friends or family about your symptoms and injuries.

Images of your brain can be taken and evaluated using CT scans or MRIs.

Treatment for concussion

A concussion happens very often by accident and not all causes can be avoided. To decrease your risk, preserve yourself and your family from the most common dangers. Wear a seat belt whenever you travel by car. Keep children in age-appropriate safety seats. Wear protective gear when participating in sports or active activities that cause injury (eg, skating, cycling, horseback riding). Wear shoes with low heels and good tread to avoid slipping and falling.

Depending on the severity of the mild traumatic brain injury, the patient may be ordered to rest (no exercise or computer games). Returning to activities before you are completely better will make things worse and you may have longer symptoms. Athletes who experience a mild traumatic brain injury should return to their sport after symptoms are free, and should only increase activity gradually as long as they are asymptomatic. Medications may be prescribed to treat symptoms such as headaches, pain, or nausea.

Symptoms of a concussion last for months or longer after the wounds have healed. In post-concussion syndrome, a person may experience headaches, dizziness, fatigue, and changes in mood, sleep, and memory. Since these symptoms are common in everyday life, it is difficult to know if they are caused by a mild traumatic brain injury. Recurring concussions can cause permanent nerve damage.


Preventive measures can help reduce the chance of a mild traumatic brain injury. Such actions include changes in sports equipment, such as changing the design of helmets; More effective rule enforcement or development of new rules to limit blows to the head (for example, in sports such as ice hockey and gridiron football); And education of players, coaches, executives, and families about concussions.

Reduce your risks of receiving a concussion:

  • Wear a seat belt all time you drive or ride in a car or another motor vehicle
  • Never drive when you are below the impact of drugs or alcohol
  • Make your home safer to prevent falls


Potential complications of concussion include:

  • Post-traumatic headache: Some people experience concussion-related headaches for up to seven days after a brain injury.
  • Post-traumatic vertigo – Some people feel a spinning or dizzy feeling for days, weeks, or months after a brain injury.
  • Post-concussion syndrome: A small number of people (15% to 20%) may have symptoms for more than three weeks, such as headache, dizziness, and trouble thinking. If these symptoms persist for more than three months, it is classified as post-concussion syndrome.
  • Cumulative Effects of Multiple Brain Injuries: Active research is currently underway to study the effects of asymptomatic recurrent head injuries (subconjunctival injuries). At this time, there is no conclusive evidence to suggest that repeated brain injuries contribute to cumulative effects.
  • Second Impact Syndrome: In rare cases, experiencing a second concussion before the signs and symptoms of the first concussion resolve can lead to rapid and usually malignant meningitis.

It is important that athletes do not return to sports when they experience signs and symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury.

When to contact the doctor

Ask immediate medical attention if:

  • Headache is worse or does not go away
  • Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Significant nausea or repeated vomiting
  • Seizures
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to wake up
  • Symptoms have worsened at any time
  • Symptoms have not gone away after 10-14 days
  • History of multiple concussions

Departments to consult for this condition

  • Department of Neurology

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