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What Are Signs of Concussion?

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Know what to look for after an athlete sustains an injury, and when to see a doctor

Posted by Temple Neurosciences Center

Concussions are caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head. When this happens, the brain gets bounced around in the skull, causing injury to the brain. You don’t have to actually get hit on the head to have a concussion, either.

There has been increasing concern in recent years about the incidence of concussions in young athletes. In fact, concussions account for 5% to 13% of all reported sports injuries in high-school-aged athletes.1

Recognizing when an athlete may have sustained possible head injury and knowing what to do if you suspect concussion can be the difference in whether the athlete suffers long-term effects from the injury, or fully recovers.

How to Tell It May Be a Concussion

Some signs of concussion may appear right away. Other symptoms may be delayed until hours or days after injury. Signs of possible concussion include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Inability to recall events before or after the event
  • Looking dazed or stunned
  • Moving clumsily
  • Enlarged pupils or not equal in size
  • Slurred speech
  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurry or double vision
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Difficulty concentrating or remembering information
  • Confusion
  • Irritability or nervousness
  • Moodiness, sadness or other personality changes
  • Excessive sleepiness or sluggishness
  • Difficulty falling or staying asleep
  • Just not “feeling right”

What to Do If You Suspect a Concussion

If you think an athlete may have a concussion following a hit, fall or other event, immediately remove the athlete from practice or play. When in doubt, have them sit it out. It’s also important to have the athlete evaluated by a medical professional. A quick concussion test on the sidelines is not enough.

Besides looking for signs of concussion immediately after the incident, you should continue to check the person for the next few days. If any new symptoms appear or they get worse, take the person to a doctor or the emergency room right away.

At the Temple Neurosciences Center, our neurologists are trained to diagnose and treat traumatic brain injuries, including concussion. Request an appointment today, or call 800-TEMPLE-MED (800-836-7536).

1. Semple BD, Lee S, Sadjadi R, et al. Repetitive concussions in adolescent athletes - translating clinical and experimental research into perspectives on rehabilitation strategies. Front Neurol. 2015;6:69. Published 2015 Apr 2. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2015.00069.
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