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Back to school means back to sports/activities for kids and for parents, back to that busy routine! Do you know what a concussion is and what signs/symptoms to look for if you suspect someone you know may have sustained one? Read this introductory blog for the answers you need to increase your awareness about concussions!

What is a concussion?

In medical jargon, a concussion can be described as “…a brain injury and is defined as a complex pathophysiological process affecting the brain, induced by biomechanical forces”.

What on earth does that mean you ask?!  In plain language, a concussion is a head injury caused by your brain being shaken around inside your skull.

What causes a concussion?

Concussion may be caused by the following:

  • a direct blow or bump to the head/face/neck

  • through a direct blow to the body and as a result, jolting your head forward/back and/or side to side

I’m not an athlete. Can I still get a concussion?

Athletes are not the only group of people who may sustain a concussion. If you have been in a car accident or have recently had a bad fall, you could have also sustained a concussion.

How do I know if I’ve had a concussion?

Some common signs/symptoms to watch out for include:


  • loss of consciousness (perhaps much to your surprise, it is rare for loss of consciousness to occur)

  • amnesia (you cannot remember what happened before and/or what is happening now after the injury)


  • headache

  • dizziness

  • light/sound sensitivity

  • nausea/vomiting

  • balance problems

  • fatigue/drowsiness

  • sleep difficulties

  • difficulty concentrating

  • fogginess’

  • Memory problems

  • Emotional

  • Increased irritability

  • Anxious/depressed

  • Slowed reaction times

These symptoms are typically delayed after a concussion so you may not have symptoms until hours or even days later. We develop these symptoms because our bodies are unable to meet the brain’s increased demand for energy. It is important to note that these symptoms typically experienced due to a concussion are a result of the brain’s temporary inability to function properly and NOT due to permanent structural brain injury/changes. This is why neuroimaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs would NOT provide any evidence of a concussion.

If you or someone you know is demonstrating the above signs/symptoms, seek out immediate medical attention from your Family Physician.

If after a concussion is suspected and the following red flags are present (either right away OR days later), go to an Emergency Room as soon as possible:

  • Worsening headache

  • Unusual confusion/irritability

  • Progressive neurological decline (i.e. muscle weakness, loss of sensations)

  • Recent fever/infection

  • Slurred speech

  • Seizure

  • Unsteadiness

  • Excessive drowsiness and/or in and out of consciousness

  • Repeated nausea/vomiting

What should I do if I think I have a concussion?

Check out next week’s blog which will discuss the appropriate steps to take if you or someone you know may have sustained a head injury and the role concussion rehab plays in your recovery!

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