Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion

Did I sustain a Concussion?

Concussions are often difficult to diagnose, as they can not be discovered through methods like CT-Scans. Due to this, concussions are often called “invisible injuries”.
It is important to note, that in 90% of all sportsrelated concussions, athletes do not lose consciousness.

Following a suspected concussion, it is recommended that you consult a Medical Physician (Family GP or Sport Physician) as early as possible for medical evaluation. Most sport-related concussion injuries do not require emergent care. It is also important that the athlete remain under close observation over the first few hours following their injury, and should not be left alone or allowed to drive.

There are multiple tests which can help diagnose a concussion, e.g. Baseline Tests and Impact Tests , however these require tests prior to suffering a concussion.

Common Symptoms of Concussions Include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Neck pain
  • Nausea or Vomiting
  • Loss of balance
  • Poor coordination
  • Trouble focusing on objects or words
  • Poor concentration
  • Feeling “foggy”
  • Confusion
  • Amnesia, or poor memory
  • “Flashing lights”
  • Blurred or double vision
  • Seeing “stars”
  • Irritability or emotional changes
  • Ringing in ears
  • Slow to follow direction
  • Decreased playing ability
  • Easily distracted
  • Vacant stare
  • Drowsiness/fatigue
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Feeling “off” or not like oneself

What to do when suspecting a concussion

  1. Avoid all sports activities.
  2. Ensure that the injured is evaluated by a healthcare professional experienced in dealing with concussions as soon as possible. Do not try to judge the seriousness of the injury yourself.
  3. Inform the injured’s emergency contact, i.e. parents or guardians about the possible concussion.
  4. The injured should not return to sports activities until a healthcare professional, experienced in evaluating concussions, confirms they are symptom-free.

When to go to the Hospital

Emergency evaluation is warranted in situations of deteriorating mental status such as increasing confusion and difficulty recognizing people or places. Other symptoms requiring immediate medical attention include worsening headache; worsening nausea or vomiting, and excessive drowsiness or lethargy.

When a concussion is suspected, we also recommend booking an initial assessment as early as possible with a trained concussion healthcare provider.

To find one of our recommended healthcare clinics in Canada near you, visit

What to Watch For

As we try to understand what we are looking for and what may happen over the short time after a concussion, let’s not forget that we can manage this injury effectively if we follow some simple steps. The most important point to remember as a parent is that you need to be in control. It is as simple as ABC: A, Assess the situation; B, Be alert for signs and symptoms; and C, Contact a concussion professional who deals with concussions on a regular basis. Always ask questions and request clarifications of any points you may not completely understand.

possible symptoms 24 to 48 Hours After a Concussion

If you are told that your child has suffered a concussion, the first step is to keep them from returning to play or even practice. Throughout the first two days after the concussion, you need to watch your child’s behavior with vigilant eyes. The list of symptoms below was taken from “What Are the Signs and Symptoms of Concussion?” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If any of the symptoms appear, you should take your child to the emergency room in case a more serious brain injury has surfaced and emergency treatment is necessary:

  • Headache that progressively becomes worse
  • Weakness, numbness or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Drowsy appearance or cannot be awakened
  • One pupil is larger than the other
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Increasingly confused, restless or agitated
  • Unusual behavior
  • Loss of consciousness, for even a brief period of time

Possible Symptoms One Week After a Concussion

Although the first two days following a concussion are arguably the most important time to be watching your child’s behavior, you should continue your monitoring for the entire week after the concussion. If you notice any of the symptoms listed in the long-term symptoms section below, note the time, day and severity of the symptom, and notify your child’s athletic trainer or physician. The information will help them determine the severity of your child’s concussion and form a care plan before the child returns to play.

Long-term Symptoms following a concussion

Concussion symptoms will last for weeks (or even months) in roughly 10 percent of cases. The following list of symptoms, from “Concussion Policy: A Guide for Schools” by Phil Hossler and Michael Collins, concentrates on the three areas most often affected by a concussion: physical changes, cognitive changes (thinking and learning) and behavioral changes. Just as with the list of symptoms possible in the “rst week after a concussion, note the time, date and severity of any symptoms you see and communicate them to your child’s athletic trainer or physician.

Physical Changes

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or lightheadedness
  • Vomiting/nausea
  • Numbness or tingling
  • Loss of balance, dropping things, tripping
  • Feeling worn out, exhausted, tiring easily
  • Drowsiness, excessive sleeping
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Blurred vision
  • Ringing in the ears

Cognitive Changes

  • Confusion or feeling “in a fog”
  • Confusing time and place instructions
  • Having lower attention/concentration level
  • Forgetfulness/difficulty with memory
  • Easily frustrated with learning new material
  • Taking longer to complete homework
  • Difficulty organizing thoughts or words
  • Misunderstanding things or instructions

Behavioral Changes

  • Restlessness or irritability
  • Impulsive actions
  • Becoming upset or losing temper easily
  • Sad or depressed mood
  • Anxiousness or nervousness

More Info