What is a Concussion and How Does it Occur? 

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a head impact or jolt that forces the head and brain to move rapidly. According to the CDC, this sudden movement caused by the force of the blow or jolt can cause the brain to impact the skull. These impacts, especially if repeated over time, might cause molecular and chemical changes in the brain that may contribute to the symptoms of concussion. This is an active area of research, and it’s important that you see a brain injury or concussion specialist for treatment. For more information, read our blog about concussion and brain injury specialists. 

What Should You do After a Concussion? 

Symptoms of a concussion can be mild to severe, but generally resolve on their own. Symptoms might include loss of consciousness, loss of memory, confusion, drowsiness, dizziness, blurred vision, headache, nausea, and sensitivity to noise and light. Severe head injuries generally will need immediate evaluation in a hospital setting. Symptoms that are of particular concern are prolonged loss of consciousness, repeated vomiting, seizure, confusion, or changes to your speech. Concussion treatment will depend on your symptoms, their severity, and your medical history.  

If you suffer a concussion or head injury while playing sports, you should immediately stop playing and seek concussion evaluation by your athletic trainer or team doctor, if available. It is often recommended that you take time to rest, heal, and recover before returning to normal levels of physical activity, particularly if that activity has a high risk of repeated concussion and head injury. Your physician will give you medical advice that is unique to your specific injury, activity, and medical history, so it’s important that you follow-up with your doctor or a local concussion and brain injury specialist immediately.  

Depending on your medical provider’s initial assessment, it may be recommended that you follow-up with an outpatient concussion and brain injury specialist. Depending on your symptoms, diagnostic testing and imaging may be recommended. Concussion treatment will be largely driven by the severity and nature of your symptoms. For example, some symptoms may necessitate medications, while others may improve without.