Concussion Symptoms

4 Categories of Concussion Symptoms 

After suffering a head injury, a person can experience a wide range of difficulties that impact thinking and remembering, physical health, emotional health, and sleep. Sometimes, these symptoms can last for a very short period of time, with the patient returning quickly to their pre-injury life. For others, though, TBI and concussion symptoms can lasting weeks, months, or even years. Unfortunately, some people who have experienced TBI are never able to return to their pre-injury physical, emotional, and cognitive abilities.

The Center for Disease Control and Prevention identifies four categories of concussion symptoms: (1) cognitive deficits in thinking/remembering, (2) physical deficits, (3) changes in emotion/mood, and (4) sleep disturbances.

Cognitive Concussion Symptoms

When suffering a TBI or concussion, it is common for people to experience difficulties with their ability to think clearly. These symptoms include feeling foggy or slowed down, poor concentration or inability to focus, and difficulties remembering new information. Because of these difficulties, those who have suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury often have problems with reading that can impact their work and school performance.

Physical Concussion Symptoms

After a bump to the head, it is common for people to experience a headache, dizziness, blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, sensitivity to noise or lights, and balance problems immediately following their injury. Unfortunately, many of these symptoms can get worse over time, resulting in migraines, fatigue, and poor hand-eye coordination. This decrease in hand-eye coordination can be especially difficult for the injured athlete who wants to return to their pre-injury level of ability.

Emotional Concussion Symptoms

Most people do not realize that TBI and concussion can impact a person’s mental health. Often, people recovering from TBI experience extreme mood swings, depression, anxiety, or irritability and frustration that result in angry outbursts toward family, friends, or co-workers. These symptoms occur in people with and without a history of mental health problems. This means that people who have never experienced mental health problems prior to a concussion may have difficulties with mental health following their head injury.

Sleep-Related Concussion Symptoms

One of the biggest ways that TBI and concussion can disrupt a person’s life is through sleep-related symptoms. Some people experiencing a TBI or concussion may start sleeping too much, while others begin to sleep too little. Still, others experience restlessness or difficulty falling asleep. No matter which of these sleep-related concussion symptoms a person has, too much or too little sleep can keep a person from returning to their pre-injury work, school, and social routines.

Because these symptoms can be mild, people will sometimes underestimate the possibility that they may be dealing with a TBI or concussion. These people may experience a bump on the head and choose to “push through” symptoms, thinking they will feel better in time. Often, it may take several minutes, hours, or days for TBI or concussion symptoms to surface. Indeed, this delay in symptoms has been the driving force behind limiting same-day return-to-play for athletes experiencing blows to the head as a part of their sport.

The bottom line is that if you hit your head and experience any of the signs or symptoms listed above, you need to seek appropriate assessment and treatment.

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