FAQ: Concussions

Get the answers to your most common questions about concussions.

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Dr. Oz Discusses the Concussion Epidemic (1:51)

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a form of mild brain injury, but that doesn’t mean it’s not serious. A concussion is caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. A fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and the brain to move quickly back and forth can also cause it. Concussions are diagnosed using neurologic and cognitive exams. Physical and cognitive rest are both very important after a concussion because they help the brain to heal.

What are the symptoms of a concussion?

Symptoms can include:

  • 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.”

Concussion symptoms aren’t always apparent immediately. Some can occur days or weeks after the injury and some may persist for up to a year after the injury.

What should you do if your child has a concussion?

The most important first step is to prevent further head trauma. If your child is playing a sport, they should be removed from play to get medical help immediately.

Rest is essential after a concussion. You should work with your doctor or brain injury specialist to figure out how quickly to return to regular activity. This normally entails avoiding strenuous physical and mental activity for some time and slowly increasing the intensity of daily activity.

How can you best prevent concussions?

Helmets and protective equipment can help prevent many of the most serious brain injuries that can result from head trauma and have saved countless lives. Reminding your kids to play by the rules and put safety first in any kind of physical activity is equally important. Finally, many traumatic brain injuries and concussions occur in car accidents. Always put a seat belt on your kids and put them in a booster seat if they’re not big enough for a regular car seat.

For older adults, make changes in your home to prevent falls. This can include moving wires or rugs that are trip hazards and installing nonslip surfaces in places like the bathroom and kitchen.