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What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. Brain cells may become stretched or damaged from this sudden head movement that causes chemical changes in the brain.

It is common for health care providers to describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions usually do not cause life-threatening effects. However, concussions can still have serious long-term impacts.

Concussion Signs and Symptoms

Concussions or more severe brain injuries can occur when you show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms below or simply says they don’t feel right after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body.

Concussion Signs Observed

Concussion Symptoms Reported

  • Can’t recall events before or after a hit or fall.
  • Appears dazed or stunned.
  • Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
  • Moves clumsily.
  • Answers questions slowly.
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly).
  • Shows mood, behaviour, or personality changes.
  • Headache or “pressure” in the head.
  • Nausea or vomiting.
  • Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
  • Bothered by light or noise.
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
  • Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
  • Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.

Typically, the signs and symptoms of an injury appear soon after the incident. However, you may not know how severe the injury is at first, and some symptoms may not appear for hours. Right after an injury and for a few days after the injury, you should watch for signs of a concussion. If concussion signs or symptoms get worse, you should seek medical help right away.

Recovery from Concussion

The majority of people with concussions feel better within a couple of weeks. However, for some, symptoms can persist for a month or longer. Concussion symptoms may appear during the recovery process or as they begin to resume normal activities.

What Steps to Take to Feel Better?

Making changes to daily activities on a short-term basis may help you return to your regular routine more quickly. As you begin to feel better, you can gradually remove these changes. It is important to remember that each concussion and each person is unique, so your recovery should be customized based on your symptoms.

Factors that might delay recovery include:

  • a history of a previous concussion or other brain injuries,
  • neurological or mental health disorders,
  • learning difficulties, and/or 
  • family and social stressors.

1. Rest

During the first few days after your injury, you should take it easy.

  • Early on, limit physical and thinking/remembering activities to avoid symptoms getting worse.
  • Avoid activities that put your child at risk for another injury to the head and brain.
  • Get a good night’s sleep and take naps during the day as needed.

2. Light Activity

Start gradually returning to your normal (non-strenuous) activities after you feel better.

  • Find relaxing activities at home. Avoid activities that put you at risk for another injury to the head and brain.
  • Get maximum nighttime sleep. (Avoid screen time and loud music before bed, sleep in a dark room, and keep to a fixed bedtime and wake-up schedule.)

3. Moderate Activity

When symptoms are mild and nearly gone, you can return to most regular activities.

4. Back to Regular Activity

Recovery from a concussion is when you are able to do all of your regular activities without experiencing any symptoms.

Post-Concussive Syndrome

Concussions usually subside within a couple of weeks, but some people experience symptoms months after they have sustained a concussion. If your symptoms don’t subside or if they become worse after you return to work, see a doctor.

If you have concussion symptoms that last weeks to months after the injury, your medical provider may talk to you about the post-concussive syndrome. While rare after only one concussion, the post-concussive syndrome is believed to occur most commonly in patients with a history of multiple concussions.

There are specialists in Osteo Health Clinic who can help you recover. You do not have to do it alone.

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