A concussion is a disturbance in brain function that occurs following either a blow to the head or as a result of the violent shaking of the head. All concussions are serious. Recognition and proper response to concussions when they first occur can help prevent further injury or even death. At SSM Health, we are dedicated to preventing concussions, as well as diagnosis and treatment of the condition. Our team of professionals work diligently with athletes, parents and coaches to educate them on proper return to play guidelines, as well as treatment and concussion prevention.
If you suspect you have a concussion, consult your health care provider immediately. Outside of your doctor’s normal business hours, go to an emergency room near you to be evaluated. Our team has the skills and experience to diagnose your condition and help you fully recover from your injury.
Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion
The symptoms of concussion may be subtle and don’t always show up immediately. This makes it especially important to pay attention to your body and note any symptoms you experience in the days following a head injury. If you’re experiencing any of the below following a blow to the head, you should be evaluated by a physician:
- Balance issues or dizziness
- Concentration or memory problems
- Double or blurry vision
- Feeling sluggish or "in a fog"
- Loss of consciousness (even briefly)
- Mood, personality or behavior changes
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleeping more or less than usual
Concussion Red Flags
If you experience any of the following symptoms during your recovery, seek immediate emergency or urgent care.
- Headaches that worsen
- Look of being very drowsy or can’t be awakened
- Inability to recognize people or places
- Neck pain
- Repeated vomiting
- Increasing confusion or irritability
- Unusual behavioral change
- Slurred speech
- Weakness or numbness in arms and/or legs
- Change in state of consciousness
Healing From a Concussion
Following a concussion, complete rest - both physical and mental - is the most critical part of recovery. Once a concussion is identified, there are several guidelines to follow to promote healing:
- No activity or exercise until cleared by physician
- Limited or no texting, computer or video games
- Driving may be restricted
- Avoid over stimulating activity (theme parks, movie theaters, concerts, etc.)
- Don't take headache medications unless advised by a physician
- Modify school or work attendance and activities as needed
Most people recover from a concussion within 7-10 days. When returning to work or school don’t put excessive strain on your brain. Take breaks as needed in a quiet place and ask to be excused from non-essential work. When your signs and symptoms are gone, you can return to normal activities. If you’re an athlete, speak with your SSM Health provider about when and how it’s safe to return to the field.