Our concussion checklist is provided to help you assess the possibility of a concussion and take appropriate action if you suspect that you or someone else has sustained a concussion. Any blow to the head can cause a concussion. Most people recover quickly and fully from the symptoms of a concussion experienced at the time of an injury. Sometimes, however, concussion symptoms last for days or weeks or more. Recovery is typically slower in children, teenagers and older adults. Repeated concussions require longer recovery time and can cause more severe cognitive loss.
Concussion Symptoms and Signs
Some symptoms and signs will appear immediately; others might not be noticed for several days to months after the injury. Some signs are not apparent until the person resumes a normal routine. Often, people do not recognize or admit these problems.
- Thinking and Remembering
- Difficulty thinking clearly
- Feeling slowed down
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering new information
- Fuzzy or blurred vision
- Nausea or vomiting early on
- Sensitivity to noise or light
- Balance problems
- Tired feeling – having no energy
- More emotional than usual
- Nervousness or anxiety
- Sleeping more than usual
- Sleeping less than usual
- Trouble falling asleep
Sometimes, a bump, blow, or jolt to the head can cause a more serious concussion. A blood clot can form in rare cases, causing swelling that creates pressure when the brain is forced against the skull. In these cases, it is important that the injured person receive medical attention immediately.
Danger Signs in Adults
The most common danger signs in adults are:
- Headache that persists and becomes worse.
- Weakness, numbness, or loss of coordination.
- Persistent nausea or repeated vomiting.
- Slurred speech.
If the following signs and symptoms are present, the injured person should be taken to an emergency department immediately:
- Looking very drowsy or cannot be awakened.
- Having one pupil larger than the other.
- Having convulsions or seizures.
- Inability to recognize people or places.
- Becoming more and more confused, restless, or agitated.
- Unusual behavior.
- Loss of consciousness (no matter how brief).
Additional Danger Signs in Children
- Experiencing any of the danger signs in adults.
- Child will not stop crying and cannot be consoled.
- Child will not eat or nurse.
What to do If Someone Has a Concussion
If you believe that you or someone else has a concussion, it is important to be seen by a health care professional as soon as possible. S/he can determine the severity of the concussion and the appropriate treatment. Immediate treatment can speed recovery and, in some cases, can prevent complications.
If someone has a concussion as a result of a sports or recreational activity, it is important to implement the HEADS UP action plan. No one should return to sports or recreational activities until released to do so by a health care professional experienced in evaluation and treatment of concussion.
It is important to tell the physician about any prescription or over-the-counter medications or “natural remedies” you are taking, as well as if you are using alcohol or drugs. In particular, tell the doctor if you are taking blood thinners (these could increase the risk of complications).
The doctor may order a scan (CT scan, for example) or other types of tests to assess the severity of the concussion and to identify any cognitive effects. In most cases, people are sent home to recover. However, some patients are kept in the hospital overnight. When released, injured people are typically given instructions. It is important to follow all instructions carefully.
We hope this concussion checklist will help you assess the risk of concussion after someone suffers a bump or blow to the head. If the injury results from the wrongdoing or negligence of another, call us for an assessment of a possible insurance claim or lawsuit.