A concussion is one of the most common types of traumatic brain injuries which may cause unconsciousness. Though it has been known to temporarily alter the way a brain functions, when handled correctly, it doesn't usually result in permanent brain injury. Most individuals (80 to 90 per cent) recover fully, but it usually takes up to 45 days for neurophysiological function to return to normal.
A concussion can occur from a direct blow to the head, face or neck. It can also occur in conjunction with whiplash injuries.
An individual can suspect a concussion if they experience any of the following symptoms after impact:
- Sensitivity to light and/or loud noises
- Slow reaction time
- Impaired brain function (e.g. confusion, amnesia, thinking difficulty remembering, nausea, seizures, and/or loss of conciousness)
- Abnormal behaviour (e.g. change in personality and/or irritability)
*Note: It may take time for symptoms to become obvious and concussions are cumulative (they occur more easily with each successive concussion). The injured individual should consult with a physician immediately if any of the above symptoms are experienced.
If a person is suspect of having a concussion, he or she should:
- Stop the activity
- Be continually monitored (every five to 10 minutes) should symptoms worsen
- Not be left alone
- Be medically assessed
- Not be allowed to return to play unless cleared by a medical professional
If an individual is experiencing a serious concussion (symptoms including unconsciousness or amnesia), a referral to a sport and exercise medicine physician can be made.
Physiotherapy can also help with lingering neck pain or stiffness.