Frequently Asked Questions About Concussions
To speak to someone personally, call our toll free CONCUSSION HELPLINE 1-800-263-5404.
What is a Concussion
Concussion is a brain injury which can be caused by a sudden acceleration of the head and neck resulting from a blow or contact to the body. You do not need to lose consciousness to have sustained a concussion. Concussions can occur from many different activities including falls, assault, motor vehicle collisions, sports or being struck by an object. Symptoms can appear immediately or, in some cases, days following the initial injury.
Concussions occur with sudden linear (Coup Contrecoup) and/or rotational acceleration of the head, which causes the brain to move within the skull. It is this movement of the brain that stretches and even tears neural tissue of the brain and produces the symptoms of concussions.
Anatomy of a Concussion
Symptoms of Concussion
The following are some of the most common symptoms a person can experience with a concussion. NO two concussions are the same and you may experience some or all of these symptoms.
- Dizziness or Balance Problems
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Fatigue/Sleep Disturbances
- Blurry Vision
- Sensitivity to Light or Sound
- Loss of Consciousness (not always)
- Tinnitus (ringing in ears)
- Poor Concentration
- Memory Problems
- Feeling like you are “in a fog”
Emotional / Behavioural
What Should I Do Following a Concussion?
If you think you have sustained a concussion, you should:
- Immediately stop/remove yourself from the activity you were doing when the concussion happened.
- Seek medical advice/attention immediately.
- You should not drive for at least 24 hours (consult your doctor when it is okay to drive).
- Generally, concussions cannot be seen on CT scans or MRIs. CT scans and MRIs are useful to identify any structural damage. (ie. skull fracture, bleeding)
- Mental and physical rest is important for the first 24 – 48 hours after sustaining a concussion. Full bed rest should not exceed three days and a gradual return to activities should begin as soon as tolerated.
- Symptoms can/may worsen over the next few days. A person should see their doctor before returning to their current level of activity (ie. work, school, etc.). It is highly recommended that you are followed by a doctor who is knowledgeable in dealing with concussion/mTBI.
- Refrain from using non-prescription drugs or alcohol.
How Long Will it Take to Feel Better Following Concussion?
The majority of people who sustain a concussion begin to feel better and symptoms are alleviated within a few days to weeks. There is a small percentage of the population whose symptoms can persist for months or longer. This is called post-concussion syndrome (PCS).
If symptoms persist, it is important to see your doctor for follow-up and monitoring.
No two concussions are alike. Many factors can contribute to the time it will take for full recovery. These factors can include:
- Severity of concussion
- Health prior to concussion
- History of prior concussion(s)
When Can I Go Back to Work/Activity Following Concussion?
Physical and cognitive rest are important during recovery from a concussion. In order to achieve cognitive rest, time off from work or school is recommended especially during the first 24 – 48 hours after sustaining a concussion.
After sustaining a concussion, people should be encouraged to gradually return to activity based upon their tolerance of the activity. When planning on returning to an activity, your tolerance or threshold for the activity should strongly be considered. If you have returned to work/school and you are experiencing a mild elevation of your symptoms, that increase should not incapacitate you or lead to a decrease in functioning the next day.
Work together with your employer/school and doctor to create a slow return to work/activity plan. A strong collaborative team can aid in a smoother transition with an increased chance of success.
Any return to activity should be made with the advice of a doctor.
What About Legal Issues Following Concussion?
If the concussion was sustained in a motor vehicle collision, contact your insurance provider within seven days and be sure to contact a personal injury lawyer who has experience with traumatic brain injuries (TBI) immediately.
If you need further support in finding this type of legal assistance in your area, please contact the Ontario Brain Injury Association (OBIA) at 1-800-263-5404.
What is Second Impact Syndrome Following Concussion?
Second impact syndrome is a rare condition in which a second concussion occurs before the first concussion has properly healed. When a second impact is sustained, it may lead to severe swelling of the brain.
Although it is an extremely rare condition, it is often fatal. It has occurred primarily in younger athletes injured during play.
This is one of the reasons why it is so important to remove yourself from activity and seek medical attention.
Where Can I Get Help Following Concussion?
Online Concussion Support Group
Do you have a Concussion?
The Online Concussion Support Group (OCSG) welcomes you to a safe space where you can share your frustrations and struggles and connect with others who have similar experiences. The support group:
- Provides support and sharing information about brain injury and concussion
- Is delivered online and available throughout Ontario
- Is free and confidential
For information on the Online Concussion Support Group or to register for an upcoming session, check here.
Concussion Resources for Children
Children can respond to concussions differently than adults. This page helps to provide different information for kids, parents, coaches and professionals about children’s concussions. All the information on this page is evidence-based and has been collected by professionals in the field of brain injury.
Concussion Resources for Adults
Concussions can happen in many different ways. They are not just specific to sports. Recovery from a concussion varies from person-to-person. The resources listed on this page can offer information and support to people in all stages of recovery. All of the information listed is based on evidence and is widely used and recommended.
Intimate Partner Violence
Signs of domestic abuse or intimate partner violence (IPV) are often pictured as bruises, broken bones or black eyes. The concurrent invisible injury such as brain trauma in women is often unnoticed. OBIA is actively involved in raising awareness of the connection between domestic violence and concussion throughout Ontario. If your organization is interested in finding out more about how OBIA can educate and support your front line workers in recognizing symptoms of a brain injury
The information contained on this website is for informational purposes only and in no way should replace the advice given by a doctor. If you suspect that you or someone you know has sustained a concussion, seek immediate medical attention.