Common Signs of Concussion

The most common signs of concussion are important for everyone to recognize, but especially parents, caregivers and those who work with children and adolescents.

Concussion Signs

According to the National Institutes of Health, more than 1 million people in the United States suffer a concussion every year. And more than half of these traumatic brain injuries occur in children.

Unfortunately, diagnosing these injuries isn’t always easy for the layperson.

The symptoms may vary, and many indications are subtle or not immediately apparent. You can more effectively recognize a concussion by knowing the most common signs and symptoms.

Physical Signs of Concussion

Traumatic brain injuries often are accompanied by obvious physical symptoms, which are the easiest indications to detect.

Many experience headaches, dizziness and balance problems. Nausea and vomiting are common, especially soon after the injury occurs. A concussion also can cause ringing in the ears, slurred speech and sensitivity to light or noise. Sometimes a loss of consciousness can occur, but often does not.

Be aware that physical signs of head injury may not present right away. Sometimes head and neck pain and other symptoms may not appear for hours, days or even weeks after the injury occurs.

Consequently, you must look for more subtle clues.

Thought and Mood Signs of Concussion

In many instances of traumatic brain injury, speaking with the injured person can reveal that a concussion likely has occurred.

You may notice a delayed response to questions, and the injured person may seem dazed, irritable, sad or more emotional than usual. It can be difficult for people with a concussion to communicate clearly, as they may have trouble thinking and concentrating.

Amnesia surrounding the event that caused the injury also is possible.

Like physical symptoms, issues with mood and thought may not develop immediately after a traumatic brain injury. In some cases, memory problems and personality changes may not emerge until well after the event that caused the concussion.

Other Possible Signs of Concussion

Fatigue and a lack of energy are common among those who suffer head injuries. Many also report sleep disturbances or disorders. They may have trouble falling asleep, and they may sleep either more or less than usual.

Following a concussion, some people may experience adjustment problems, depression, anxiety and other psychological or neurological issues.

Taste and smell disorders also can develop, and some people have difficulty with coordination. In some cases — particularly in people with severe injuries or those with subsequent concussions — these complications may have a lasting effect.

Though most people who suffer a concussion recover quickly, any traumatic brain injury should be taken seriously. Prompt medical attention and treatment are a must.

If you believe that you or someone in your care has suffered a concussion or head injury, seek emergency medical attention right away.

The professional team at Steward Health Care: Centers of Orthopedic & Sports Medicine are dedicated to the health and well-being of your entire family. Contact us to schedule a consultation with one of our physicians to discuss the symptoms and signs of concussion.

Mark Peterson, DO
Sports Medicine Physician at Endurance Orthopedics and Sports Medicine
Dr. Peterson is board-certified in Family Medicine, as well as in non-surgical Sports Medicine. He has served as a team physician for the Northwest Arkansas Naturals and for Heritage High School in Arkansas. He is also fluent in Spanish.