Concussion and traumatic brain injury


What is a concussion?

A concussion causes damage to the brain. A concussion is a traumatic brain injury. It changes the way that a brain functions. Concussions are relatively common, particularly for individuals who play a sport that involves contact with another person or object, such as football or hockey. Though concussions often result from a blow to the head, they can also result from severe shaking of the head and upper body. Since every concussion causes at least some injury to the brain, it requires time and rest to heal properly. Most concussions are mild, and people usually recover fully. Sometimes a concussion is not obvious at the time it occurs, so people don’t realize that they have experienced it until much later, if at all.

Signs and symptoms of concussion

The effects of a concussion are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. Because a healthy brain is necessary to so many areas of a person’s functioning, a more serious or lasting concussion injury may affect an individuals’ eye movements, balance, spatial orientation, speed, accuracy, endurance, reaction time, thoughts, emotions, and overall health.

Common symptoms after a concussive traumatic 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 concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:

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

Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury:

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

Mayo Clinic Website