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Concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects brain function. It results from a mismatch between blood flow and different elements/ions in the brain (such as potassium, calcium, and glucose). For most people the effects are usually temporary and can include headaches, difficulty with memory, concentration, coordination and balance. A blow to the head is the most common cause of injury, but violent shaking of the head, such as in a car accident, can result in concussion as well. It is important to know that only a small number of people actually report loss of consciousness after the concussion.

What are the symptoms?

There are six different trajectories that can follow concussion and each result in different symptoms:

  1. Cognitive difficulties/fatigue: difficulty concentrating, distractibility, and difficulty processing information
  2. Ocular: eye movement is impacted causing headaches, dizziness and blurry vision
  3. Vestibular: difficulty with balance, which can also attribute to feelings of unsteadiness/dizziness
  4. Post traumatic headache: can be similar in symptoms to a migraine type headache
  5. Mood and anxiety: extreme emotions that can change rapidly
  6. Cervical: when the impact affects the cervical neck region, which can result in a tension like headache

The symptoms are also divided into immediate and delayed symptoms. For example, a teenager that took a blow to the head during a ball game may experience disorientation and memory deficit during the first few minutes after the impact. A few hours later he/she might develop headaches, dizziness, fatigue, light/sound sensitivity and just feel "out of it". 

What should I do? 

You should see a doctor who specializes in concussion management within 1 to 2 days if you or your child experiences a head injury, even if emergency care wasn't required. However if you or your child experiences a head injury and has one or more of the symptoms listed below, you should seek immediate help (by calling 911): 
  • A loss of consciousness lasting longer than 30 seconds 
  • Seizures 
  • Repeated vomiting
  • A headache that significantly gets worse over time
  • Changes in physical coordination such as stumbling or clumsiness 
  • Confusion and disorientation that last more than a couple of minutes 
  • Slurred speech 

What to expect during the office visit? 

You will be asked to fill up a comprehensive assessment tool which includes symptoms, medical and mental history. Then you will meet Dr. Dadush, our Sports Medicine/Concussion specialist, who will conduct an extensive examination which will include evaluation of your cognitive (memory, concentration), coordination, balance and vision abilities and function. Depending on the severity of your injury, Dr. Dadush may recommend imaging tests, such as CT or MRI or a computerized test such as ImPACT.  Following the evaluation, Dr. Dadush will develop an individual treatment plan that will address your symptoms, and will allow you to safely return to normal day to day activity/sports.