If you receive a blow to the head (or even to elsewhere on your body), you may have sustained a concussion. In their Guidelines for Concussion/Mild Traumatic Brain Injury and Persistent Symptoms, the Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation (ONF) writes a concussion “may be caused either by a direct blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body with an ‘impulsive’ force transmitted to the head.”1
What are the symptoms of concussion? Konkussion (an organization focused on becoming the global leader in concussion management and research) says, “Symptoms include headaches, nausea, vomiting and a sense of being out-of-it or feeling foggy. Most [individuals] fail to recognise their symptoms as a concussion. Parents may notice their child being slow to respond, off-balance or glassy-eyed. It’s critical that patients are evaluated by a health care professional following a suspected concussion. It’s crucial that a patient isn’t cleared to return to play until normal brain function has returned since a second concussion without recovering from the first may be fatal.”2
How long does it take to recover? According to the ONF: “Most people will recover from a concussion within a relatively short period of time; usually anywhere from one week to up to three months. Unfortunately, up to 20% of people with concussion will continue to experience significant symptoms beyond three months. Some people can have the following troublesome symptoms for much longer:
• Post-traumatic headache
• Sleep disturbances
• Balance problems and dizziness
• Cognitive impairments
• Depression and anxiety.
These persistent symptoms can impede a person’s return to activity including work, school, and recreation/sports.”3
What can you do?
If you’ve had a blow to the head (or elsewhere on the body with an impulsive force transmitted to your head), don’t ignore the fact you may have sustained a concussion. Instead, see a health care professional for an evaluation. In addition, it’s important not to let the information you read online lead you into making a self-diagnosis. While it’s good to arm yourself with knowledge (see “Helpful Resources” below), the very best thing you can do is to see a doctor for a professional assessment.