What Is a Concussion?

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is an injury that changes how the cells in the brain normally work. It’s caused by a blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move rapidly inside the skull. Even what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.

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Concussions can also result from a fall or from players colliding with each other or with

obstacles, even if they do not directly hit their head. The potential for concussions is greatest in athletic environments where collisions are common.1

Concussions can occur, however, in any organized or unorganized sport or recreational activity. As many as 3.8 million sports and recreation-related concussions occur in the United States each year.2

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Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion

To help recognize a concussion, you should watch for the following two things: 1. A forceful blow to the head or body that results in rapid movement of the head, and 2. Any change in the person’s behavior, thinking, or physical functioning.

Signs of a Concussion

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused and unsure
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows behavior or personality changes

Concussion Symptoms

  • Headache or pressure in head
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems or dizziness
  • Double or blurry vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy
  • Concentration or memory problems
  • Confusion
  • Does not feel right

Adapted from Lovell et al. 2004

Anyone who experience any of these signs or symptoms after a bump or blow to the head should be seen by a health care professional with experience in evaluating concussions. Signs and symptoms of concussion can last from several minutes to days, weeks, months, or even longer in some cases.

Concussion Clinic

Our sports Concussion Clinic focuses on the importance of assessing patients who might have a concussion from a sports-related injury. Occasionally, patients may also need additional care after a concussion. 

If needed, we can also provide recommendations and referrals for:

  • speech therapy for cognitive rehabilitation,
  • physical therapy for vestibular or balance rehabilitation,
  • neuro-ophthalmologists for unique visual disturbances after mild TBI, and
  • radiologists when imaging studies are needed.

Sports Concussion Laws for Athletes

New sports concussion laws are protecting our young athletes from the potential life-altering consequences of concussions or traumatic head injuries. They require amateur youth sport organizations to adopt and enforce a concussion policy as well as educate parents and athletes about concussions. 

Athletes who might have a concussion now need to be immediately removed from play and not allowed to return until medically cleared by a healthcare provider. Our sports concussion program can help you understand new laws and enforce them.

To help organizations with implementing their sports concussion management plan, we have designed a template you can print off and share with your organization, participants, and parents.

Sports Concussion Management Plan

Baseline Testing for Athletes

For certain high-risk sports, we can conduct preseason neuropsychological testing. This testing provides a baseline status for the athlete, which can be used for comparison to that same athlete’s status after a possible concussion. This allows us to more accurately assess and help the athlete return to normal function following a concussion.

Specialists at the concussion clinic can work with schools, clubs, and leagues offering preseason testing. For more information on organizing preseason testing for your athletes, contact the following:

Blake Johnson
Phone: 801-587-0757

If your school, club, or league is not yet ready to do preseason testing across the organization, we can provide this service directly in our facility. To learn more about this option and schedule a time to complete this preseason test, please contact us.

  1. Powell JW. Cerebral concussion: causes, effects, and risks in sports. Journal of Athletic

Training 2001; 36(3):307-311.

  1. Langlois JA, Rutland-Brown W, Wald M. The epidemiology and impact of traumatic brain

injury: a brief overview. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation 2006; 21(5):375-378.