A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—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. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
Concussions Are Serious
Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.
Dangerous Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion
- One pupil larger than the other.
- Drowsiness or inability to wake up.
- A headache that gets worse and does not go away.
- Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination.
- Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching).
- Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
- Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out). Even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously.
Recovery from Concussion
You should take it easy the first few days after the injury when symptoms are more severe.
- 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
As you start to feel better, gradually return to regular (non-strenuous) activities.
- Find relaxing activities at home. Avoid activities that put you at risk for another injury to the head and brain.
- If symptoms do not worsen during an activity, then this activity is OK. If symptoms worsen, cut back on that activity until it is tolerated.
- 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.)
- Reduce daytime naps or return to a regular daytime nap schedule (as appropriate for your age).
3. Moderate Activity
When symptoms are mild and nearly gone, you can return to most regular activities.
- Take breaks only if concussion symptoms worsen.
- Return to a regular schedule.
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.
Also, be sure to:
- Schedule a follow up appointment for your doctor or nurse.
- Ask your doctor or nurse about safe over-the-counter or prescription medications to help with symptoms (e.g., Ibuprofen or acetaminophen for headache).
- Limit the number of soft drinks or caffeinated items so you can rest.