What is a concussion?

A concussion is a common, yet mild traumatic brain injury resulting from a force or impact to the head. Concussions are often caused by a bump or blow to the head during a fall, sporting event or car accident.

What are the signs and symptoms of concussion?

Signs and Symptoms of Concussion

Some of these symptoms may appear immediately, while others may not be noticed for days or months afterward.

What should you do if you have a concussion?

You need to rest. This includes both mental and physical rest. Rest is very important after a concussion: It helps the brain heal. Ignoring your symptoms and trying to “tough it out” often makes symptoms worse. Everyone heals differently: Be patient and realize that symptoms take time to go away.

If you have a history of chronic headaches, anxiety or depression, it may take longer or make it more difficult to adjust to the symptoms of a concussion. It is important that during the healing process you avoid any further concussions or hits to the head.

When should you go to the Emergency Room?

If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the following symptoms go to the Emergency Room:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • One pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) larger than the other
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Increased confusion: cannot recognize people or places
  • Unusual behavior   
  • Repeated vomiting

What should you do if you continue to have difficulties?

Most people will recover from a concussion within one week. However, some people, such as older adults, young children and teenagers have symptoms that can last longer.

If you are having symptoms two weeks after your concussion, follow up with your doctor or primary care provider. Different kinds of rehabilitation may help you return to your prior level of function:

  • Occupational therapists can help with vision problems, fatigue and assisting with return to work or school
  • Physical therapists can help with balance and dizziness, coordination problems, pain in muscles or joints and help with returning to sports
  • Speech language pathologists can help with communication (finding the right word, organizing your thoughts), memory or attention problems and assisting with return to work or school

Jim Chesnutt discusses concussion treatment and how OHSU's research helps local athletes