What is a Concussion?

What is a concussion? A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head—A majority of concussions do not result in loss of consciousness. It can happen from a fall, a hit to the head, or a hit to the body that causes your head and your brain to move quickly back and forth.

How do I know if I have a concussion? There are many signs and symptoms that you may have after a concussion. A concussion can affect your thinking, your mood, and your sleep. Please see signs and symptoms of a concussion below and review all that are listed. Please also be aware that if your son/daughter took a baseline ImPACT® concussion screen test previously, a post-concussion ImPACT® test will need to be scheduled.

What should I do if I think I have a concussion? If you are having any of the signs and/or symptoms (listed below) you should tell someone! This can be your parents, coach, athletic trainer, physical therapist, and/or your physician so you can get the help you need. If you took an ImPACT® baseline concussion screen, please ask to immediately get seen for a post-concussion test or when cleared to do so by a physician. In urgent circumstances or when severe symptoms are noticed, call 9-1-1 immediately.

When should I be particularly concerned? If you have a headache that gets worse over time, you are unable to control your body, you throw up repeatedly, you experience increasing stomach pain/discomfort, or your words are coming out slurred- you must let an adult (parent, coach, athletic trainer) know right away so that they can help your symptoms from worsening. It is always better to be more conservative and take yourself or your child to the hospital. Follow up care will often be necessary.

Some problems that may affect you or your child after a concussion: Concentrating in class or activities that require mental concentration (reading, watching TV, texting, working on a computer) may increase some of the symptoms. It is, at times, more beneficial to not force a child to return to school, but instead allow cognitive rest. If a concussed athlete continues to play or returns to play too early, they may have long-term memory issues or trouble paying attention. Headaches that last a long time or personality changes can also occur. Once you receive a concussion, you may be more susceptible to have another concussion.

When can I return to physical activity and my sport after a concussion? Any player diagnosed with a concussion must be cleared by a health-care professional (we encourage post-trauma evaluation clearance to be from same pre-participation health-care professional to ensure consistency). A written confirmation from a health-care professional must be presented before an athlete returns to practice/games/meets. Your athletic trainer will work with other health-care professionals to ensure that all precautions are taken before returning to play. This includes gradual increase in activity without symptoms being present.
Adapted from: National Athletic Trainers’ Association Position Statement: Management of Sport Concussion
Journal of Athletic Training, 2014, 49(2) 245-265

Signs and Symptoms

It is common to have one or many concussion symptoms that can persist for a varying amount of time. If you or your child took an ImPACT® baseline concussion test, a post-concussion test should be scheduled within 24-72 hours after a concussion diagnosis (or when cleared to do so by your physician).

Be aware of developing or worsening symptoms:

  • Amnesia
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea and or vommiting
  • Visual problems
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Balance problems
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue and or feeling tired
  • Sadness
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Drowsiness

Monitoring symptoms and how they develop is important to the healing process. However, if you are unsure of symptom severity or notice an urgent sign or symptom, call 9-1-1 immediately.

Urgent Signs and Symptoms:

  • Severe worsening of headache
  • Seizures
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Increasing confusion/li>
  • Increasing neck pain
  • Numbness or tingling in arms and or legs
  • Slurred speech
  • Unusual behavior change
  • Very drowsy and or cannot be awakened
  • Significant irritability
  • Less responsive than usual
  • Pupils becoming unequal in size

If any of the URGENT symptoms develop quickly and/or worsen in intensity, contact 911 and/or your family physician.

It is OK to:

  • Apply ice as needed for comfort
  • Eat a carbohydrate rish diet
  • Rest
  • Go to sleep/li>
  • Take minimal dose of acetaminophen (Tylenol) for minor headache

No Need to:

  • Check eyes with flashlight
  • Wake up frequently (unless otherwise instructed)
  • Stay in bed


  • Take ibuprofen, naproxen, or Advil
  • Do not participate in activities that make symptoms worse
  • Drink alcohol
  • Elevate heart rate with strenuous exercise until approved to do so
Baseline and ImPACT® Concussion Testing

Baseline concussion testing is important at any age! Having values and measurements of where you or your child are for balance testing, reaction time, pupil reaction to light, immediate and delayed memory, can all play a role in determining if a concussion is present.

A baseline ImPACT® concussion test can be taken at any Achieve Orthopedic Rehab, Sports Medicine facility. This test is a computerized concussion assessment tool used nation wide. You or your child will take a 25-35 minute “test” on the computer. During this time, 6 games or assessment tools are used to help determine your processing speed, reaction time, verbal and visual memory, as well as any symptoms you may be having. If a concussion were to occur, your child would re-take the ImPACT® test and a sports medicine physician can then compare the baseline scores to the post-concussion scores to help determine the best return to play protocol.

If you’re on a team, there is also an option to take a baseline sideline assessment test. This test is performed in person by our certified athletic trainer. Your balance, memory recall, pupil reaction, and concentration will all be monitored. This test allows the athletic trainer to know how fast your pupil’s react or how great your balance is before a concussion so they can better compare after a head trauma has occurred.

Copies of all testing documents will be given to you for your records and our sports medicine team will also keep a copy so, if needed, results can be faxed to your doctor of choice.