How To Recognize a Concussion

Lifespan Blog Team

One of the trickiest conditions to diagnose at home is a concussion. Simply engaging in physical activity like sports or outdoor activities can risk a blow to the head, and if severe enough, could cause a concussion. It is reported that 1 in 5 high school athletes will sustain a concussion during the sports season. In addition, the leading cause of head injury is from falls around the home. While sometimes concussions can cause you to lose consciousness, most do not and can therefore become difficult to identify. It is very possible to have a concussion and not know it.

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can affect brain function. The effects are often temporary but should be observed carefully. Always seek medical attention if you suspect that you or someone else has sustained a concussion.

Signs and symptoms

How do you know how to identify a concussion? While the signs can be very subtle, there are a few things you can watch out for:

  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Appearing dazed or confused
  • Delayed responses or slurred speech
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Headache or feeling pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Ringing in the ears

Delayed symptoms

While some signs can be apparent instantly, often concussion symptoms may not show up until days after the event. Delayed symptoms may include:

  • Disorders of taste and smell
  • Irritability
  • Poor concentration or loss of memory
  • Psychological adjustment problems or depression
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances

If you or a loved one has experienced trauma to the head, be sure to keep an eye out for any signs that may indicate a concussion. Seek medical attention if one or many of these symptoms are present.

Concussion aftercare

Most people will recover fully from a grade 1 or 2 concussion, and in most cases, hospitalization is not required. After you’ve seen your physician, he or she will give you clear instructions to follow for a determined length of time at home. These may include:

  • Avoid computer use and video games in early recovery
  • Avoid activities that require a lot of concentration
  • Avoid physical activity
  • Consult your health care professional before driving a car, riding a bike or operating equipment
  • Do not consume alcoholic beverages
  • Get plenty of sleep at night and rest throughout the day
  • Return to your daily activities gradually, not all at once (this includes your job)
  • Only take drugs that your health care professional has approved

Repeat concussions can lead to further cognitive problems. Be sure to follow physician aftercare instructions carefully to avoid long-term complications. Preventing a concussion is almost impossible, but you can take preventative steps to reduce the risk of a repeat concussion. Wear protective equipment during high-impact sports, always buckle your seatbelt in motor vehicles and educate yourself and others about the dangers of concussions.

If you would like to read more about concussions in children, visit our website. Our Outpatient Rehabilitation Services also offers a Concussion Program to help patients who have concussions or post-concussion syndrome.

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