Concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head or another type of injury that jars or shakes the brain. Concussions are usually temporary but the degree of injury can be wide-ranging depending on the amount of energy transmitted to the brain during the fall or blow. The injured person does not have to lose consciousness to sustain a concussion.

Signs and Symptoms

  • Headache
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Fatigue
  • Confusion
  • Altered level of consciousness
  • Memory loss
  • Dizziness/balance problems

Who is at risk?

Anyone can sustain a concussion; from a toddler who falls while playing to a senior citizen who trips while walking through the house. We typically associate concussions with those who participate in high risk contact sports such as football, hockey, lacrosse, soccer and others. Any fall, motor vehicle accident or physical abuse can also result in concussion.


The only treatment for concussion is rest. The injured party must be pulled from the activity immediately and not resume activity until cleared by a medical provider who is trained in concussion management. Repeated concussions over a long period of time may result in lifelong conditions such as headaches, seizures and inability to think and function at a normal level. Repeated concussions over a short period of time may result in something called Second Impact Syndrome which may result in death. Certain severe concussion signs and symptoms should be evaluated in the Emergency Department. They are listed under the next heading.

Emergency Warning Signs: When should I see a doctor?

Seek emergency medical help if the injured person develops:

  • Headache that worsens over time
  • Slurred speech
  • Vision or eye problems such as different size pupils
  • Changes in their breathing pattern
  • Fluid discharge from the nose or ears
  • Seizures
  • Unconsciousness or poor responsiveness
  • Weakness on one or both sides of the body
  • Difficulty walking
  • Persistent or new confusion

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