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Published on November 25, 2014

Concussion: What Signs & Symptoms To Look Out For

By: Christina Kunec, PsyD

Kids playing football

The primary signs to look for initially are loss of consciousness, periods of amnesia, and disorientation or confusion. Signs that warrant a trip to the ED include a headache that continues to worsen, being very drowsy and unable to be awakened, not recognizing people or places, seizures, repeated vomiting, increasing confusion, unusual behavioral changes, slurred speech, weakness or numbness in arms or legs. These symptoms need to be examined by a physician as soon as possible to rule out more serious underlying pathology.

In general, symptoms of concussion cluster into four groups – physical, sleep-related, cognitive, and emotional. Physical symptoms including headache, nausea, dizziness, and light and noise sensitivity. Sleep-related symptoms include drowsiness, difficulty sleeping or sleeping too much. Cognitive or thinking problems are common and may include trouble concentrating, memory problems, and feeling foggy. Some individuals experience emotional symptoms such as feeling irritable, anxious, or sad. It’s normal for symptoms to wax and wane, depending on the environment.

In order to optimize your care if you are suffering from a concussion it is important to seek treatment from professionals who are trained in evaluating concussion. In the beginning, rest - both physical and mental rest is important to give the brain time to heal. However, there are some components of concussion that may need more formal treatments and so going to a program that emphasizes a multidisciplinary approach is crucial. A team approach is important to be able to address the different types of concussion since it is not a homogenous injury.

Learn more about the Concussion Center located at Stamford Health's Orthopedic & Spine Institute.

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