Warning Signs of a Concussion

How to tell and what to do if you or someone you know encounters a serious bump to the head.
how do i know if i have a concussion

Anyone who experiences any of the signs and symptoms listed below after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body should be kept out of play and evaluated for concussion by a medical provider trained in concussion evaluation and management.

> Headache

> Nausea or vomiting

> Dizziness

> Double vision

> Sensitivity to light

> Sensitivity to noise

> Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy or groggy

> Concentration or memory problems

> Confusion

> Does not “feel right” or is “feeling down”

> Appears dazed 

> Is confused 

> Forgets instructions

> Moves clumsily

> Answers  questions slowly

> Loses consciousness (even briefly)

> Shows mood, behavior or  personality changes

> Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall

“When in doubt, sit them out,” says Stanley A. Herring, co–medical director of the Seattle Sports Concussion Program. “If a player has initial symptoms that include a loss of consciousness 30 seconds or longer, or weakness or numbness on one side of the body or face, or severe or worsening headache, persistent or worsening confusion, repeated vomiting, marked or worsening somnolence, call 911 for an ambulance immediately. Harborview is the place to go, as it is a level-one trauma center always ready to handle brain trauma.”

If the athlete is doing OK after an hour or two of observation, he or she can be sent home with a responsible adult for continued observation and care, Herring says. “They should rest, eat and drink what they like, but avoid alcohol or taking aspirin or anti-inflammatory products [such as Aleve or Advil] and an appointment should be made with a health care professional trained in concussion.

If symptoms worsen later that day or night, send them to the ER.”

These same guidelines for athletes are also applicable to situations in which a concussion is suspected after the result of an accident, such as a fall while hiking or skating, a job accident or a slip in the shower.

Note: You can’t see a concussion, and some children and adults may not experience and/or report symptoms until hours or even days after the injury.

Additional sources: Seattle Sports Concussion Program (uwmedicine.org/sportsconcussion) and Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (cdc.gov/concussion)