Fact Sheet: Concussions

Find out what you need to know about concussions.

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What is a concussion?

A concussion is a form of brain injury. Symptoms of a concussion may start immediately after an injury or take days or weeks to show up. The injury is diagnosed mainly using a neurologic exam and cognitive exam. Imaging tests can be helpful in some severe cases, but they often don’t show the damage done to the brain in a concussion. Most people recover fully after a concussion, but it can take time. Physical and cognitive rest are very important after a concussion to allow for recovery. As symptoms improve, individuals can slowly return to their prior activities.

What are the signs of a concussion?

Picking up on the signs and symptoms of concussion can accelerate how quickly a person gets treated, minimize their symptoms, and prevent the potentially disastrous consequences of a repeat concussion. You should think about a concussion if a person:

  • Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.

  • Appears dazed or stunned.

  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.

  • Moves clumsily.

  • Answers questions slowly.

  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).

  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.

You should also worry if a person has the following symptoms after head trauma:

  • Headache or “pressure” in head.

  • Nausea or vomiting.

  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.

  • Bothered by light or noise.

  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.

  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.

  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down.”

If you think someone has experienced a concussion or brain injury, they should be seen by health professional immediately for assessment.