(Closed Head Injury; Head Trauma; Mild Traumatic Brain Injury)
- A blow to the head
- Severe jarring or shaking—like a bad fall
- Abruptly coming to a stop—most common in car accidents
|How a Concussion Occurs|
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- Motor vehicles
- Skates, skateboards, and scooters
- Sports and recreation
- Falling down
Physical violence such as
- Assault and battery
- Domestic violence
- Child abuse
- A previous concussion or head injury
- Participation in contact sports like football or boxing, especially during competition
- Work that involves farming, logging, or construction where the potential for a head injury is high
- Being in a car accident
- Increased susceptibility to concussion
- Alcohol intoxication
- Loss of consciousness or memory about the accident
- Low-grade headache or neck pain
- Remembering things
- Paying attention or concentrating
- Organizing daily tasks
- Making decisions and solving problems
- Slowness in thinking, acting, speaking, or reading
- Feeling fatigued or tired
Change in sleeping pattern:
- Sleeping much longer than usual
- Trouble sleeping
- Loss of balance
- Feeling lightheaded
Increased sensitivity to:
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
- Loss of sense of taste or smell
- Ringing in the ears or trouble hearing
- Feeling sad, anxious, or listless
- Becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason
- Lacking motivation
- Listlessness or tiring easily
- Irritability or crankiness
- Eating or sleeping patterns
- School performance
- Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities
- Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
- Loss of balance, unsteady walking
Mental and Physical Rest
Prevent Further Damage
Avoid certain medications—especially aspirin , blood thinners, and medications that cause drowsiness
- Talk to your doctor about any medication you are taking.
- Do not take any new medication without your doctor's permission until your concussion is fully healed. This includes over-the-counter medication and supplements.
- Avoid the use of alcohol and illegal drugs.
Avoid activities that might jolt or jar your head—re-injury can lead to more severe or long-term symptoms:
- Never return to a sports activity until your doctor has said it is okay to do so.
- When you are cleared to do so, gradually return to sports.
- Ask when it's safe to drive a car, ride a bike, work, or use heavy equipment.
Avoid a second head injury in children and adolescents (second impact syndrome):
- Even a mild second head injury in children and adolescents can lead to serious damage to the brain. This can lead to unconsciousness and even death.
- Follow your child's doctor's recommendation of when it is safe to return to contact sports or other activities.
- Do not drink alcohol and drive.
- Do not take medications that may make you sleepy, especially when driving or using heavy equipment.
- Obey speed limits and other driving laws.
- In vehicles, always use seatbelts and child safety seats. Only use child safety seats when traveling. Do not use them outside of the vehicle.
Wear a helmet when:
- Riding a bike or motorcycle
- Playing a contact sport like football or hockey
- Using skates, scooters, and skateboards
- Catching, batting, or running bases in baseball or softball
- Riding a horse
- Skiing or snowboarding
- Wear mouth guards, face guards, pads, and other safety gear while playing sports.
- Make sure your child's play surface is soft and free of rocks, holes, and debris.
- Use handrails when walking up and down stairs—teach your child to do so.
- Install safety gates by stairs and safety guards by windows.
- Use grab bars in the bathroom.
- Place non-slip mats in the bathroom.
- Keep walkways clear to avoid tripping.
- Make sure rooms and hallways are well lit.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention http://www.cdc.gov
Family Doctor—American Academy of Family Physicians http://familydoctor.org
Brain Injury Association of Canada http://biac-aclc.ca
Ontario Brain Injury Association http://www.obia.on.ca
Can you recognize a concussion? American Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation website. Available at: http://www.aapmr.org/patients/conditions/neurologic/brain/Pages/concuss.aspx. Accessed January 14, 2015.
Concussion and mild traumatic brain injury. EBSCO DynaMed website. Available at: http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed. Updated January 9, 2015. Accessed January 14, 2015.
Harmon KG. Assessment and management of concussion in sports. Am Fam Physician. 1999;60(3):887-894.
Halstead ME, Walter KD, Council on Sports Medicine and Fitness. American Academy of Pediatrics. Clinical report--sport-related concussion in children and adolescents. Pediatrics. 2010 Sep;126(3):597-615. full-text
Kirkwood MW, Yeates KO, Wilson PE. Pediatric sport-related concussion: a review of the clinical management of an oft-neglected population. Pediatrics. 2006;117(4):1359-1371.
Pearce JM. Observations on concussion: a review. Eur Neurol. 2008;59(3-4):113-119.
Ro YS, Shin SD, Holmes JF, et al. Comparison of clinical performance of cranial computed tomography rules in patients with minor head injury: a multicenter prospective study. Acad Emerg Med. 2011;18(6):597-604.
Sports-related concussion information for athletes. Wesleyan University Athletic Injury Care website. Available at: http://www.wesleyan.edu/athletics/injurycare/concussions.html. Updated January 2007. Accessed January 14, 2015.
Traumatic brain injury. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website. Available at: http://www.cdc.gov/TraumaticBrainInjury/index.html. Updated March 6, 2014. Accessed January 14, 2015.
10/5/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Parikh SN, Wilson L. Hazardous use of car seats outside the car in the United States, 2003-2007. Pediatrics. 2010;126(2):352-357.
12/10/2010 DynaMed's Systematic Literature Surveillance http://www.ebscohost.com/dynamed: Bakhos LL, Lockhart GR, Myers R, Linakis JG. Emergency department visits for concussion in young child athletes. Pediatrics. 2010;126(3):e550-556.
- Reviewer: Michael Woods, MD
- Review Date: 01/2015 -
- Update Date: 01/15/2014 -