Concussion Syndrome

What is concussion syndrome?

Concussion refers to any mild head injury. Concussion can cause headaches, confusion, tiredness, mood changes and nausea. If symptoms occur after a blow to the head one should be assessed by a doctor and should be observed carefully for 24 hours for signs of a more severe brain injury. People who are unconscious for more than 5 minutes, who have severe memory loss, who have a discharge from their nose or black eyes without injury need urgent review by a doctor. People with concussion should rest until their symptoms settle. Concussion usually gets better within 1 to 2 days, but some people experience ongoing symptoms for up to 6 months.

Risks

Concussion is a mild injury due to a blow to the head. Common causes are contact sports and accidents. People aged 65 or older, who have had brain surgery or who bleed easily are at a higher risk of concussion after a head injury.

Symptoms

The main symptoms of concussion are blurred vision (or seeing double), a headache, loss of balance, confusion and memory problems. Some people may lose consciousness for a short time. People may also feel nauseous or dizzy. Concussion sometimes causes mood and behavioral changes, and may make people irritable or apathetic. People who have worsening confusion, who become drowsy or lose consciousness, who vomit repeatedly, who develop a discharge from their nose or black eyes may have a more serious head injury. Anyone displaying these symptoms needs urgent review by a doctor.

Diagnosis

The diagnosis is based on the symptoms and a examination of the nervous system. If the head injury was severe, a computed tomography scan (CT scan) or a magnetic resonance imaging scan (MRI scan) may be needed to exclude a severe brain injury.

Treatment

There is no specific treatment for this condition. People who have had a concussion should rest until their symptoms have settled. Paracetamol may be helpful for headache. Athletes who have had a concussion should get advice from a doctor before returning to contact sports.

Prevention

Wearing a helmet or head guard while participating in sports with a high risk of concussion may help to prevent some cases.

Other names for concussion syndrome

  • Brain concussion
  • Concussion
  • Mild traumatic brain injury