What is a concussion?

A concussion is an injury to the head area that may cause instant loss of awareness or alertness for a few minutes up to a few hours after the traumatic event. Some concussions are mild and brief, and the person or untrained observer may not recognize that a concussion has occurred.

Signs of a concussion

Although symptoms may not occur right away, common signs include:

  • Headache

  • Dizziness or vertigo

  • Lack of awareness

  • Nausea and vomiting

  • Poor attention and concentration

  • Fatigue

  • Double or blurred vision

  • Irritability and/or bothered by light or noise

  • Memory problems

  • Sleep disturbances

If you cannot easily wake a person who has a concussion, they need immediate medical attention.

Concussion Treatment

It's important to remember that you should not return to sports or recreation activities until you are evaluated by a healthcare provider experienced in treating concussions.

Rest is key for the treatment of a concussion. The brain needs time to repair itself.

Often athletes have no symptoms after a few days. Headaches, nausea, and other problems may return from plunging back into sports too soon, though.

Other rules of treatment:

  • Immediately after injury, a doctor, school nurse, coach, or trainer who is experienced in evaluating concussions should check the person's mental status.

  • Remove the person from the activity, especially after loss of consciousness, until a healthcare provider experienced in evaluating concussions gives the person approval to resume sports or recreation activities. 

  • Initially monitor the person's level of consciousness very closely for 30 minutes, then monitor his or her state of consciousness closely for the next 24 to 72 hours.

  • Restrict activity until the person is cleared by his or her healthcare provider to resume normal activities.

  • The person should gradually return to light activity. Contact the person's healthcare provider if symptoms recur.

Concussion Fact Sheet

St. Louis Children's Hospital has created a fact sheet for parents of children and teens who have recently had a concussion. It will tell you what to expect over the next days and weeks and offer some suggestions for helping your child through the recovery period. Learn more