• Concussion

    What is a Concussion?

    A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the brain functions. Concussions often occur as sports-related injuries, but they can occur whenever a person experiences a bump, blow or jolt to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the brain within the head. A person who has one concussion is at increased risk for complications from subsequent concussions.

    How soon after the injury would a person show signs and symptoms of a concussion?

    Signs and symptoms of a concussion usually are apparent soon after the injury, although some can appear hours or days later. For example, the person may sleep more or less than usual. Children may show changes in playing or eating habits.

    Emergency Steps


    Check the scene safety, form an initial impression, obtain consent and put on PPE, as appropriate.


    Check for signs and symptoms.

    • Headache or dizziness*
    • Loss of consciousness*
    • Confusion*
    • Difficulty thinking or remembering*
    • Nausea or vomiting*
    • Sensitivity to noise or light*
    • Seizures*
    • Highly emotional state*
    • Memory loss*
    • Not able to do activities person could do before*
    • Difficulty concentrating
    • Irritability

    *Note: Signs and symptoms with a * require immediate emergency medical treatment.


    Call 9-1-1 and get equipment if the person requires immediate emergency medical treatment.


    Give Care.

    General Care

    1. Have the person rest without moving; leave them in the position found while waiting for EMS.
    2. Have the person stop the activity they were doing.
    3. Continue checking them as appropriate to determine if additional care is needed.
    4. Care for any other injuries according to level of training.
    5. Keep them from getting cold or overheated.
    6. Give care for shock, if necessary.
    7. Reassure them you will help and that EMS has been called (if appropriate).
    8. Watch for changes in condition, including breathing and responsiveness, and give care as appropriate and trained.
    9. If for any reason 9-1-1 was not called, have the person follow up with a healthcare provider for a full evaluation.

    Concussion FAQs

    Is a person with a concussion at risk for dying if they fall asleep?

    It is generally considered safe for a person with a concussion to go to sleep. However, this should be after evaluation by a healthcare provider. The person’s healthcare provider may recommend that the person be awakened periodically to make sure that their condition has not worsened.

    Should I watch a person who has had a concussion?

    Yes. With all head injuries, you should watch the person to see if their situation changes. If you see a change in behavior, vomiting, persistent headache, or change in vision or the person becomes unresponsive, call 9-1-1 immediately. Sometimes you may not see the symptoms immediately.

    Can I give the person painkillers if they have a headache?

    No. Painkillers are not advised because they can mask the signs and symptoms of a serious head injury.

    When can a person with a concussion return to normal activities?

    A healthcare provider should evaluate the severity of the injury and make recommendations about when the person can return to normal activities.

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