A concussion is defined as "a complex pathophysiologic process that results in a transient disturbance of brain function" (1). It is a form of traumatic brain injury. Feeling like your "bell was rung" or simply feeling "off" after a head injury are common descriptions. A loss of consciousness is not required to be diagnosed with a concussion. The recovery time can vary drastically from only a few days to months (1-4)
A concussion can be a debilitating injury. Activity levels, work productivity and social engagements can all be affected. Physical symptoms like headache, dizziness and nausea are common. Cognitive symptoms like "feeling in a fog" or "slowed down" are also frequent. Mood symptoms of irritability, depression and anxiety can also begin to creep in. Symptoms may appear immediately after a head injury or manifest over the following days.
The serious, long term consequences of concussions are now being recognized by the medical community. Many repeated concussions and the sequelae of CTE (chronic traumatic encephalopathy) can be devastating later in life.
If you suspect you have a concussion, it is important to be assessed by a physician. The kind of treatment you receive is very important for your recovery and prognosis.
McCrory P, et al. Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 4th International Conference in Sport held in Zurich, Novemeber 2012. British Journal Sports Medicine 2013:47:250-258
Field M, Collins MW, Lovell MR, Maroon J. Does age play a role in recovery from sports-related concussion? A comparison of high school and collegiate athletes. J Pediatr 2003;142(5):546-53.
Sim A, Terryberry-Spohr L, Wilson KR. Prolonged recovery of memory functioning after mild traumatic brain injury in adolescent athletes. J Neurosurg 2008;108(3):511-6.
Kirkwood MW, Yeates KO, Taylor HG, Randolph C, McCrea M, Anderson VA. Management of pediatric mild traumatic brain injury: A neuropsychological review from injury through recovery. Clin Neuropsychol 2008;22(5):769-800.