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Concussion Information Center

BIAA Concussion Information Center (CIC)

A 2015 Harris Poll reports that nearly 90 percent of Americans cannot correctly define a concussion, although a large majority of Americans feel they have at least some knowledge about the subject. This information is designed to shed further light on concussion-related issues to help families, individuals, educators, health care professionals and others to be more mindful of signs of a concussion, how to respond accordingly, and to identify resources to assist following a concussion, also known as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI).

What is a concussion?

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines concussion as a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, stretching and damaging brain cells and creating chemical changes in the brain.

There may be signs of injury to the head, such as bruising or cuts, or there may be no visible injury. A person does not necessarily pass out after a concussion.

Medical professionals often refer to concussions as “mild” TBIs (mTBI) because they are not usually life threatening; however, concussions are serious injuries.

What are the signs of a Concussion?

After a bump, jolt, or blow to the head, the signs and symptoms of a concussion may not be readily apparent. However, general signs include:

  • Dizziness
  • Headaches
  • Blurred vision
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Appearing dazed
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Delayed response to questions
  • The person may or may not lose consciousness

The table below describes common issues people experience after a concussion. 

Cognitive
Physical Emotional Sleep
In a “fog”; can’t think clearly Headache Sad Sleeping more
Can't follow conversations Post-traumatic amnesia
(can't remember injury)
Easily irritated Trouble falling asleep
Trouble with attention/concentration Nausea Anxious
Not sleeping soundly
Difficulty learning new information Dizziness More emotional than usual
Sleep cycle disturbed
Word finding problems Sensitivity to light/sound
Changes in personailty
Not feeling rested after sleep
Slowed reaction times Fatigue More impulsive
N/A

When Should You Seek Medical Attention?

Generally, health care experts recommend that individuals contact a physician, emergency medical services (EMS), or go to the ED immediately if someone sustains a bump, blow, or jolt to the head and has these symptoms:

  • A headache that gets worse and does not go away;
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination;
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea;
  • Slurred speech;
  • Appear very drowsy or cannot be awakened;
  • One pupil is larger than the other;
  • Convulsions or seizures;
  • Does not recognize people or places;
  • Get increasingly confused, restless, or agitated;
  • Unusual behavior; and/or
  • Loss of consciousness.

What Should I Do After a Concussion?

  • Follow the doctor’s orders;
  • Get lots of rest and don’t hurry to resume daily activities such as work or school;
  • Avoid doing anything that could risk another blow or jolt to the head;
  • Ask your doctor when it’s safe to drive a car, ride a bike, play sports or use heavy equipment as your ability to react may be slower after a brain injury;
  • Take only the medications your doctor has approved and that includes over the counter medications;
  • Don’t drink alcohol until your doctor says it’s all right; and
  • Avoid computer games, texting, and other cognitive activities while the brain is resting.

How Can Concussions be Prevented?

States have enacted several measures designed to reduce fatalities and brain injuries, including seat belt legislation; distracted driving laws; drunken driving laws; and return to play laws with regard to sports-related concussions. Individuals can take several measures designed to reduce the risk of brain injury and these include:

  • Wearing protective gear, such as helmets, when bicycling, motorcycling, snowboarding, riding a horse, skiing, riding/driving ATVs, or playing sports;
  • Wearing seat belts while driving or riding in vehicles;
  • Ensuring that living areas for seniors and young children are free of trip hazards and have sufficient barriers for stairs; and
  • Maintaining physical activity to improve lower body strength and balance.

Concussion Fact Sheets

CTE and post-concussion syndrome (PCS) - similarities and differences

 

 
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