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Concussion Signs and Symptoms

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It can be caused by a direct blow to the head, face or neck, or a blow elsewhere on the body, which transmits force to the brain. It injures both brain cells and the blood vessels that feed them. Concussion may present itself in many ways through a variety signs and symptoms; any of the following may indicate a concussion is present:

Physical Signs
Doctor evaluating a child soccer player for concussion symptoms

  • Headache
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Visual problems (double/blurred)
  • Loss of consciousness (< 10% of cases)
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Feeling dazed/stunned
  • Numbness/tingling sensation

Cognitive Signs

  • Feeling mentally foggy
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Forgetting recent information
  • Forgetting recent conversations
  • Confusion regarding events
  • Answering questions slowly
  • Repeating questions

Emotional Signs

  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • More emotional than normal
  • Nervousness

Sleep Effects

  • Drowsiness
  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sleeping less than usual
  • Difficulty falling asleep

It is imperative if a concussion is suspected that medical treatment is administered as soon as possible to prevent further damage or injury to the head, brain or nervous system. A few after-effects of concussion can include learning problems; concentration issues such as Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD)/Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD); an increased incidence of depression and frequent headaches.

Post-Concussion Syndrome

In some cases, post-concussion syndrome may develop. A few signs that a concussion patient may have post-concussion syndrome may include:

  • Persistent headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Anxiety
  • Insomnia
  • Loss of memory/concentration
  • Noise & light sensitivity lasting weeks/months

Second Impact Syndrome

This may occur following a second head injury in a patient who has not fully recovered from a previous head injury. The final result can be brain damage and sometimes death. For athletes, the risk of Second Impact Syndrome can be decreased by completing a preseason Athlete Baseline Test.

When is a concussion an emergency?

If your child experiences any of the symptoms below, call your physician, take your child to the emergency room immediately, or call 911:

  • Worsening loss of memory or trouble with thought patterns (takes a while to remember events or items)
  • Severe or pounding headaches, persistent headaches or worsening headaches
  • Mental confusion, notable behavioral changes, unusual behavior (excessive crying, combativeness)
  • Unable to recognize people or places
  • Weakness, numbness
  • Dizziness, poor balance or unsteadiness
  • Nausea, vomiting (more than twice) or fever
  • Abnormal drowsiness and difficulty being awakened
  • Unequal size of pupils (black part in center of eye)
  • Loss of appetite
  • Blurred or double vision or slurred speech
  • Tingling or numbness in arms, hands, and/or feet
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Blood or clear fluid from ears or nose
  • Neck pain
  • Any unusual behavior

For more information on concussion or to schedule an appointment with a Summa Health Sports Medicine professional for post-concussion treatment, please call 330.835.5533.

Concussion Care & Treatment


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If your situation is an emergency, call 911.