A concussion is an injury to your brain. The brain does not work right for a while after a concussion. You may have problems with things like memory, balance, concentration, judgement, and coordination.
Your brain will need time to heal after a concussion. Most will have a full recovery with the proper rest and monitoring.
A concussion is caused by a sudden, violent jolt to the brain. It may be caused by:
How a Concussion Occurs
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Concussions most often occur with events that involve:
Factors that may increase your chance of a concussion include:
A concussion can cause symptoms that may last for days, weeks, or even longer.
Symptoms may include:
Symptoms that may appear in a child with a concussion include:
You will be asked about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. Others who witnessed the accident may also be asked to describe what happened and how you reacted. A physical exam will be done. It will often include brief tests for strength, sensation, balance, reflexes, and memory.
Imaging tests evaluate the head, brain, and surrounding structures for injury and/or damage. These may include:
The goal of treatment is to allow the brain to heal. The brain can heal on its own with rest and avoiding activities that may be harmful while it heals.
You brain will need full rest. This means avoiding physical activities and decreasing mentally demanding tasks. At first you will need to avoid all activities that need concentration like work or schoolwork. For children this also includes video games, watching television, computer activities, or texting.
You will be asked to gradually add in mental and physical activities once your initial symptoms are gone at rest. Your symptoms, balance, cognition and tolerance to your current activity will be assessed at each stage of recovery. This information will be used to decide if you will need further rest or if you are ready to progress to the next step.
Follow your doctor's directions on when you should return to work or school. Following the recommended schedule will help to speed your recovery.
The brain is more vulnerable to injuries while it is healing. Some steps to consider include:
To prevent vehicle accidents and head injuries associated with car accidents:
To prevent concussions with recreational activities and sports:
To prevent accidents at home that can lead to concussions:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians
Brain Injury Association of Canada
Ontario Brain Injury Association
Can you recognize a concussion? American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation website. Available at: http://www.aapmr.org/patients/conditions/neurologic/brain/Pages/concuss.aspx. Accessed January 14, 2015.
Concussion and mild traumatic brain injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 9, 2015. Accessed January 14, 2015.
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Halstead ME, Walter KD, Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical report--sport-related concussion in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010 Sep;126(3):597-615. full-text
Kirkwood MW, Yeates KO, Wilson PE. Pediatric sport-related concussion: a review of the clinical management of an oft-neglected population. Pediatrics. 2006;117(4):1359-1371.
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Ro YS, Shin SD, Holmes JF, et al. Comparison of clinical performance of cranial computed tomography rules in patients with minor head injury: a multicenter prospective study. Acad Emerg Med. 2011;18(6):597-604.
Sports-related concussion information for athletes. Wesleyan University Athletic Injury Care website. Available at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/athletics/injurycare/concussions.html. Updated January 2007. Accessed January 14, 2015.
Traumatic brain injury. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury/index.html. Updated March 6, 2014. Accessed January 14, 2015.
10/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Parikh SN, Wilson L. Hazardous use of car seats outside the car in the United States, 2003-2007. Pediatrics. 2010;126(2):352-357.
12/10/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Bakhos LL, Lockhart GR, Myers R, Linakis JG. Emergency department visits for concussion in young child athletes. Pediatrics. 2010;126(3):e550-556.
Last reviewed January 2015 by Michael Woods, MD
Please be aware that this information is provided to supplement the care provided by your physician. It is neither intended nor implied to be a substitute for professional medical advice. CALL YOUR HEALTHCARE PROVIDER IMMEDIATELY IF YOU THINK YOU MAY HAVE A MEDICAL EMERGENCY. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified health provider prior to starting any new treatment or with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.
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