Signs and Symptoms of Concussion
There is no definitive test to diagnose concussion. Traditional imaging with CT, MRI, or X-rays cannot visualize the damage. Special imaging studies and blood tests have been developed for diagnosing traumatic brain injury, but their role in diagnosis is the subject of ongoing research. To diagnose a concussion, practitioners rely on a physical exam, observable signs, and symptoms the patient reports.
Signs and symptoms might be seen immediately after the injury, but in some cases may not appear or be evident until days or weeks later.
Signs of concussion that others may notice:
- Loss of consciousness, even brief
- Appears dazed or confused
- Moves clumsily
- Answers questions slowly
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
Symptoms of concussion that a patient may report:
- Headache or feeling of pressure in their head
- Nausea or vomiting
- Balance problems or dizziness
- Double or blurry vision
- Sensitivity to light and/or noise
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, or groggy
- Problems with concentration or memory
- Not “feeling right” or “feeling blue”
A concussion can be harder to detect in children because they are less able to express how they are feeling or the difficulties they are having. A concussed child’s academic performance may decline, and he or she may seem lethargic or disinterested. Often, the fact that their child cannot endure a whole day at school spurs parents to call the pediatrician.