What is a Concussion? Signs, Symptoms and Concussion Explained


What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a common type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by moving forces such as a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or other part of the body that results an acceleration and deceleration of the brain within the skull.  One common misconception is that someone must get hit in the head to cause a concussion and this is not true.  A significant enough hit or jolt to the body may cause a whiplash effect that can result in a enough force to the brain to cause a concussion. A concussion can result in a variety of symptoms and temporary disturbances in cells caused by the acceleration and deceleration of the brain with the skull. This often produces temporary changes in mental status, coordination, and balance.


What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?

A concussion causes the brain cells to become excited initially after the injury, followed by a pronounced drop in energy. This may result in any of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness (it is important to note that more than 90% of concussions DO NOT result in a loss of consciousness)
  • Headache or pressure in the head
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Neck pain or whiplash
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Blurred or distorted vision
  • Balance problems
  • Feeling tired, fatigued, slowed down, drowsy or feeling loss of energy
  • Not feeling right or “feeling off" or feeling "foggy"
  • More emotional
  • Feeling sad, anxious, upset, irritable or angry
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Difficulty concentrating

What should I do if I or someone I care about has a concussion?

  • Always tell a parent, family member, coach, teacher, friend or teammate if you or a teammate may have sustained a concussion.
  • Tell your coach, parents, and medical provider the symptoms you are experiencing
  • Seek Medical Care to get a comprehensive evaluation. Our team at Britt Zink Physical Therapy Services can perform a comprehensive evaluation.
  • Wait until you have medical permission to return to activity.

When in doubt, sit them out!!!

The first 24-28 hours following a concussion are critical because there is a potential for a more serious brain injury that may require more immediate medical attention such as a bleed or swelling in the brain. Following the injury, the individual should be monitored for any worsening of their condition as this may indicate bleeding or swelling in the brain.

Seek Immediate Medical Help if the Individual exhibits any of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness for longer than 30 seconds
  • Very drowsy or can’t be woken up
  • Vomiting
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Slurred speech
  • Fluid or blood coming from the ears, nose, mouth or eyes
  • Inability to remember or recognize familiar people or places
  • Unsteadiness standing or walking
  • Drug or alcohol intoxication at time of injury
  • Bruising behind the ears, black eyes or very tender points on the face
  • Weakness or numbness in the arms or legs
  • Confusion, mood changes or other odd behavior