Understanding Concussions

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that changes the way your brain functions. The effects of a concussion are typically temporary but Concussion-Symptomscan include headaches and issues with concentration, memory, balance and coordination.

Concussions are typically caused by a blow to the head, however, they can also occur when the head or upper body are violently shaken. Injuries to the head like this can cause a loss of consciousness, but most concussions do not. Because of this, a lot of people can experience a concussion and not even know it.

Concussions are common, particularly in a contact sport such as football. Every concussion that occurs injures the brain to some extent. A person with this kind of injury needs time to rest and heal properly. Most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild and most people make a full recovery.

Symptoms of A Concussion

A concussion isn’t always apparent. Signs and symptoms can be subtle and can last for days, weeks or even longer. The common symptoms after a concussive brain injury are headache, loss of memory (amnesia) and confusion. The amnesia, which may or may not follow a loss of consciousness, usually involves the loss of memory of the event that caused the injury. Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Confusion or a feeling as if in a fog
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Appearing dazed

There are some cases when symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, such as:

  • Sleep disturbances
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Irritability and personality changes
  • Psychological adjustment problems and depression
  • Disorders of taste and smell
  • Concentration and memory complaints

Symptoms in Children

Head trauma is very common in children but concussions can be difficult to recognize in infants and toddlers because of their inability to describe how they feel. Nonverbal clues of a concussion include:

  • Listlessness and tiring easily
  • Appearing dazed
  • Irritability and crankiness
  • Loss of balance and walking unsteadily
  • Excessive crying
  • Changes in eating and sleeping patterns
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys

When It’s Time to See a Doctor

See a doctor within 1 to 2 days if:

  • You or your child experiences a head injury, even if emergency care isn’t required The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends that you call your child’s doctor for advice if our child receives anything more than a light bump on the head.
  • If your child doesn’t have signs of a serious head injury, and if your child remains alert, moves normally and responds to you, the injury is probably mild and usually doesn’t need further testing. In this case, if your child wants a nap, it’s OK to let him or her sleep. If worrisome signs develop later, seek emergency care.

Seek emergency care for an adult or child who experiences a head injury and symptoms such as:

  • Repeated vomiting
  • A loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 seconds
  • A headache that gets worse over time
  • Changes in his or her behavior, such as irritability
  • Changes in physical condition, such as stumbling or clumsiness
  • Confusion or disorientation, such as difficulty recognizing people or places
  • Slurred speech or other changes in speech

Other symptoms include:

  • Vision or eye disturbances, such as pupils that are bigger than normal (dilated pupils) or pupils of unequal sizes
  • Seizures
  • Lasting or recurrent dizziness
  • Obvious difconcussion-e1433170265636ficulty with mental function or physical coordination
  • Symptoms that worsen over time
  • Large head bumps or bruises on areas other than the forehead in children.


No athlete should return to play or vigorous activity while experiencing signs and symptoms of a concussion. Experts recommend that an athlete with a suspected concussion.

If you suspect you or your child have a concussion visit Compass Urgent Care for an evaluation. Open daily and no appointment necessary.

Compass Urgent Care