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Concussion – Steps to Take If You or Someone You Know Has One 

Concussions explained

A concussion is caused by a blow to the head. It can be caused by an impact, for example if a soccer ball hits your head. Or it can be caused by a sudden jolt or movement. For example, in a car accident if the person’s head swings hard forward, the brain can hit the inside of the skull and cause a concussion.

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries. A person with a concussion can experience bruising on the brain, swelling of the brain and bleeding. Your brain has limited space and when it begins to swell or bruise, problems can arise – and they can arise very quickly. The pressure inside the skull can build to a point where it restricts the brain and causes coma or death.

Concussions are serious injuries and need to be taken seriously. Because it’s a fairly common injury, it’s important to know what to do if you or someone you know has one.

Know the Symptoms

A person can get hit on the head and not suffer a concussion, so not all head injuries are concussions. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person and depend on the severity of the injury. If you or a person you know has suffered a head injury, keep an eye out for the following symptoms:

  • A very bad headache
  • Weakness and decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Extreme fatigue or drowsiness
  • Irregular pupils – one might be larger than the other
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Difficulty remembering where they are or what happened
  • Confusion, agitation and irritability
  • Loss of consciousness

Any of these signs require an immediate visit to the doctor. Don’t wait to see if the headache goes away and don’t take any medication for the headache. Don’t wait to see if the symptoms lesson and don’t try to sleep it off. If your brain is bleeding or swelling then immediate action needs to be taken. At a very minimum a doctor needs to be able to observe you to make sure the symptoms are not getting worse.

If the doctor sends you home, it’s important that there’s someone to stay with you at all times. Once the concussion has healed, and this can take weeks or months, you can resume normal activities. If you’ve suffered a concussion, take the injury seriously and take time to let your brain heal.

While many brain injuries do resolve over time and most people don’t deal with severe and life-long complications, it’s important to make sure any concussion or brain injury is looked at by a doctor. The sooner a brain injury is diagnosed and treated, the better the long-term outlook.

Cynthia Stein, PT, MEd.
Cynthia Stein, PT, MEd.

A physical therapist and educator, Cynthia graduated with a BS in physical therapy from the University of Pittsburgh and a masters in exercise physiology from Temple University. She served as a staff physical therapist at the Annapolis Naval Hospital and chief physical therapist at the Philadelphia Naval Hospital.

She owned and operated Squirrel Hill Physical Therapy in Pittsburgh PA for 30 years. She is extensively trained in osteopathic techniques, Myofascial Release, Lymphatic Drainage, Nasal Release Technique, and PEMF. She sees patients privately and teaches continuing education for health care practitioners around the world. Visit for more information.

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