What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a form of brain injury that can be caused by direct or indirect forces including a hit to the head, neck, face or somewhere else on the body that can cause the brain to bounce around and move rapidly back and forth inside the skull. Falling, being in a motor vehicle accident, or sustaining a sports related injury are some examples of actions that can cause a concussion. When the brain moves it causes stretching and shearing of the brain cells which can lead to a number of chemical changes in the brain and a disruption in brain function. This in turn can result in a variety of symptoms.

Symptoms of Concussion

Concussions can lead to a number of physical, cognitive and emotional symptoms that might appear right away or a few days later. Sometimes symptoms can last a few days, weeks, or even longer for some individuals. Here are some examples of symptoms that you might experience after a concussion:

Physical Cognitive Emotional
  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Balance Problems
  • Dizziness
  • Visual problems
  • Fatigue
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Move clumsily
  • Sleep problems
  • Feel mentally foggy
  • Feel slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering
  • Forgetful of recent information or conversations
  • Confused about recent events
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Repeats questions
  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Emotional lability
  • Nervousness

Getting Better from a Concussion: What does recovery look like?

It is important to see your primary care provider or someone experienced with concussion within 1-2 weeks of your diagnosis. A medical professional such as a doctor or nurse practitioner should be directly involved in your care and monitor your symptoms.

The signs and symptoms of concussion often last for days to weeks, but may last much longer. In some cases, a person may take months to recover.

Neuropsychological Assessment:

You may be referred for a Neuropsychological Assessment following a concussion/brain injury. This is especially helpful for those individuals who may take longer to recover or continue to experience symptoms following the acute phase of the injury. This is a specialized form of assessment, conducted by a registered psychologist who has specific training in Clinical Neuropsychology. The assessment would include a better understanding of your cognitive, behavioural and/or emotional difficulties related to your injury. This is a highly individualized and comprehensive assessment geared to meet your specific needs. The results of the assessment can be used to confirm or clarify a diagnosis, provide a profile of strengths and weaknesses, guide rehabilitation, and/or education, vocational recommendations for cognitive intervention. The assessment can also inform treatment such as clarifying whether you may benefit from psychotherapy or cognitive rehabilitation, understand what compensatory strategies would help in daily life, and can result in referrals to other specialists.

How is Concussion Treated?

A number of healthcare providers practice in the area of concussion and play important roles for healing and recovery. Specific diagnoses and treatment, such as neuropsychology, neurology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychiatry, psychotherapy and speech-language pathology etc. may be required. It is important to receive a proper assessment, diagnosis and individualized treatment plan geared toward your unique symptoms to facilitate a quick recovery.

Helpful Concussion Resources:

Ontario Neurotrauma Foundation

https://onf.org/

Free Patient Resources: Concussions Ontario

https://concussionsontario.org

Ontario Brain Injury Association

https://obia.ca

Helpline: 1-800-263-5404

Quick Link to ONF Concussion Information for Patients and Families Book:

https://concussionsontario.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/04/ONF-Concussion-Booklet-Web-Feedback-link.pdf