Learn the signs of a concussion and what to do if you see them

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that can change the way the brain normally works. Concussions can also occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth.

If a concussion is not properly managed, symptoms may persist. Early intervention can help reduce the possibility of continual symptoms.

When a head injury or an injury that could cause a concussion occurs, it is important to watch for the following symptoms:

Football or Soccer Field

As football, soccer and other fall sports begin, it is important to be aware of concussion symptoms that may occur after a head injury at games or practices.

  • Headache or pressure in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Drowsiness
  • Poor concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Dilated pupils or difference in pupil size from left eye to right eye
  • Slurred speech
  • Seizures
  • Decreased or irregular pulse or breathing
  • Mood changes
  • Loss of consciousness

As football, soccer and other fall sports begin, it is important to be aware of concussion symptoms that may occur after a head injury at games or practices. Athletes who have sustained a concussion may:

  • Be confused about assignments or positions
  • Forget instructions such as sports plays
  • Be unsure of the game, score or opponent
  • Move clumsily
  • Answer questions slowly

It is important to stop activities and seek medical attention if these symptoms occur after a head injury.

Diagnosis and management of concussions are vital to a quick and full recovery. When symptoms of a concussion occur, contact a physician or go to the nearest emergency room. If a concussion is diagnosed, follow-up care may be needed to manage the concussion and symptoms.

Full-Service Concussions Care

Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland offers a comprehensive Concussion Assessment and Management Program that includes education, awareness, prevention, intervention and clinical care. The program treats people ages 14 and older who have head injuries from sports, motor vehicle accidents, falls or other head traumas.

The program’s interdisciplinary team includes a neuropsychologist and a physical therapist as well as a physiatrist (a physician specializing in physical medicine and rehabilitation).

“Our team works together to evaluate the presence or level of injury and determine a plan of care,” says Shital Pavawalla, PhD, neuropsychologist and clinical director of the Concussion Assessment and Management Program at Adventist Rehabilitation Hospital of Maryland. “In addition to being convenient for the patient, our comprehensive approach provides patients with a coordinated treatment plan that is also communicated back to their referring physician.”

Plans include referral to appropriate therapeutic services such as physical therapy or further neuropsychological testing. Patients are also provided with recommendations on return to play, school and work as well as academic modifications.