A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. Concussions are the result of a blow to the head or a severe jolt to the body that alters the way your brain functions. Some concussions result in a loss of consciousness but most do not. Because of this, some people have concussions and don’t realize it.
Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport. But every concussion injures your brain to some extent. This injury needs time and rest to heal properly. Most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild, and people usually recover fully.
Traumatic brain injury can have wide-ranging physical and psychological effects. The most common signs and symptoms of a concussion are the following:
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Headaches or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Neck pain that does not go away
- Difficulty remembering, concentrating, or making decisions
- Slowness in thinking, speaking, acting, or reading
- Easily confused or feeling as if in a fog
- Appearing dazed, exhibiting a delayed response to questions
- Feeling tired all of the time, having no energy or motivation
- Mood changes (feeling sad or angry for no reason)
- Irritability and other personality changes
- Changes in sleep patterns (sleeping a lot more or having a hard time sleeping)
- Light-headedness, dizziness, or loss of balance
- Increased sensitivity to lights, sounds, or distractions
- Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
- Loss of sense of smell or taste
- Ringing in the ears
Most signs or symptoms of a concussion are evident soon after the traumatic event. Some signs and symptoms can be subtle and may not be apparent for days or weeks later. Moreover, symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer. Most people make a good recovery from a concussion, but it’s important to take seriously what may seem like just a bump on the head.
Sometimes adults and children complain of “just not feeling like themselves.” Children, in particular, often have a hard time explaining that they don’t feel normal and it’s up to the parents, and their friends, family or coaches to know that they aren’t acting like themselves and get them to rest or to seek medical attention.