Concussion Treatment Checklist

Doctor gives concussion test

Concussion is complex and may present with various symptoms — some that appear right away and others that might not be noticed for days, weeks or months after the injury.

Concussion should be treated right away, and the key to receiving timely treatment is recognizing the symptoms.

What are the warning signs of concussion?

Symptoms that might appear immediately after a concussion include:

  • a loss of consciousness
  • blurry or double vision
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • amnesia surrounding the event
  • confusion
  • drowsiness
  • feeling “foggy”
  • balance problems

Other symptoms, including difficulty concentrating and remembering or emotional changes, might not surface for days or weeks after the injury. Sometimes people do not recognize or admit that they are having problems. Others might not understand their problems and how the symptoms are related to a head injury.

What is the first step to take if you believe you or a family member has suffered a concussion?

Seek medical attention immediately. A concussion is considered a mild brain injury, as the brain is forced against the inside of the skull due to a traumatic event. Emergency medicine providers are trained to diagnose concussions and rule out a potentially more serious injury. If a concussion occurs during sports practice or a game, immediately stop playing and inform the athletic coach or trainer.

What are the dangers of not seeking treatment?

An undiagnosed concussion can put someone at risk for brain damage. Ignoring your symptoms and trying to “tough it out” often makes symptoms worse. A concussion is a mild brain injury and can have lasting effects. If symptoms are not managed early, you can be at risk of developing post-concussion syndrome (PCS), which is a collection of symptoms including physical, emotional or behavior, and mental-processing difficulties. Most symptoms resolve themselves within two weeks to a month, but some can linger for several months.

How do you determine when someone who has suffered a concussion is ready to return to daily activities?

It is largely based on symptoms. Initially, the person may need to stay home from school or refrain from work activities for one to two days and then gradually increase activity as tolerated. Complete cognitive and physical rest is no longer recommended. Light physical activity such as walking can be performed as soon as it can be tolerated.

Mizzou Therapy Services offers a comprehensive approach to concussion treatment that can address pain, balance problems, weakness, thinking difficulties, vision problems and ability to return to previous life roles, such as school or work activities. We work closely with the Physical Medicine & Rehabilitation clinic and frequently consult neuropsychology and eye-care professionals as needed.

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