What is a concussion?

A concussion is a type of mild head injury. It is caused by a direct hit or blow to the head, neck, or body, resulting in some movement of the brain within the skull. This causes a temporary change in how the brain functions. These changes occur at a cellular level, which means structural damage cannot be seen on a clinical brain scan.

Concussion is a common injury. There are many causes of concussions including falls, recreational injuries, car accidents, or sports.

While many children and adults with concussion will notice their symptoms improve within a few days, it can take up to four weeks to recover from a concussion.

Approximately 30% of children and adults may experience symptoms for longer than 4 weeks. Early identification of concussion and appropriate management in the early stages post-injury can help to accelerate recovery. It is therefore important a suspected concussion is not ignored.

Signs & Symptoms

There are several common symptoms caused by concussion, which often resolve quite rapidly. While some people recover quickly, others will need more time.

Physical symptoms

  • Headache
  • Tiredness or fatigue
  • Drowsiness
  • Nausea
  • Balance problems
  • Dizziness
  • Visual problems (blurry, double vision)
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise

Cognitive symptoms

  • Acts or appears mentally “foggy”
  • Has difficulty concentrating
  • Has difficulty remembering
  • Becomes confused with directions or tasks
  • Answers questions more slowly than usual

Emotional symptoms

  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • Nervousness
  • More emotional

Sleep-related symptoms

  • Difficulty falling asleep or staying asleep
  • Sleeping more than usual

Murdoch Children’s Research Institute Concussion Podcast

Neuropsychologist Professor Vicki Anderson from the Murdoch Children’s Research Institute helps you understand the impacts of a concussion in your children, and explains the differences in severity of hits to the head. The podcast goes into detail on what actually happens to the brain, the steps to help diagnose and manage head injuries and the advancements in future technology.