The Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion
A concussion is categorized as a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head and/or body causing the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. Concussions can typically occur from a fall or blow to the body.
If you suspect someone has suffered a concussion, please consider if the following has occurred:
- A direct blow to the head, face, neck, or elsewhere on the body with an “impulsive” force transmitted to the head.
- A rapid onset of short-lived impairment of neurological function that resolves spontaneously.
- An onset of neuropathological changes, but the acute clinical symptoms largely reflect a functional disturbance rather than structural injury.
- A graded set of clinical syndromes that may or may not involve loss of consciousness. Resolution of the clinical and cognitive symptoms typically follows a sequential course.
- Association with grossly normal structural neuroimaging studies such as an MRI scan or CT scan; however, it is important to note that since a concussion does NOT show up on an MRI or CT scan, these tests may come back as normal, but does not indicate that the athlete didn't suffer a concussion. A clear MRI or CT scan does not mean that the athlete is clear of a concussion injury.
Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion
Signs are indicators that a coach, athletic trainer, parent or fellow team member may notice:
- Any period of loss of consciousness
- Disorientation or confusion
- Slurred or incoherent speech
- Difficulty paying attention
- Delayed verbal and motor response
- Vacant stare
- Emotionality out of proportion to circumstance
- Memory deficits
Symptoms of a concussion are what an athlete may report experiencing:
Early symptoms (minutes to hours):
- Visual changes
Late symptoms (days to weeks):
- Memory disturbances
- Poor attention and concentration
- Sleep disturbances
- Personality changes such as becoming easily frustrated
- Persistent low-grade headache
If an athlete has ANY symptoms or signs of concussion, the athlete:
- Should NOT be allowed to return to play in the current game or practice
- Should not be left alone (regular monitoring for deterioration over next several hours)
- Should be medically evaluated by a medical doctor (not a chiropractor or nurse)
- Should follow a medically supervised stepwise process for returning to play
If you suspect that you, or an athlete you know, has suffered a concussion, please read more about how a concussion is evaluated by clicking here.