All concussions are serious. They’re a type of traumatic brain injury. They can result from a bump, blow, or jolt to the head – or to the body.

When this happens, literally, the brain bounces around or twists within the skull. This sudden movement causes stretching and tearing of brain cells, damaging them and creating chemical changes in the brain. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be a mild bump or blow to the head can be serious.

Comprehensive Evaluation and Management of Concussions

At UT Southwestern Medical Center, we provide comprehensive care for a wide range of patients – from those who have experienced a concussion while playing sports, in a household accident, or during military service. Immediate appointments are available with our doctors for evaluations. For emergency situations, it’s important to call 911 or seek emergency care. Our Emergency Department is located at UT Southwestern Medical Center’s William P. Clements Jr. University Hospital, just off Harry Hines Blvd. at Inwood Road.

Recognizing a Concussion

Signs and symptoms of concussion generally appear soon after the injury. Most people don’t have a loss of consciousness.

Symptoms Someone May Experience:

  • 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
  • Not “feeling right” or “feeling down”

What Someone (Not the Person Experiencing the Concussion) May Notice:

  • Appears dazed or stunned
  • Is confused about assignment or position
  • Forgets an instruction
  • Is unsure of game, score, or opponent
  • Moves clumsily
  • Answers questions slowly
  • Loses consciousness (even briefly)
  • Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes
  • Can’t recall events prior to hit or fall

Danger Signs: When to Get Emergency Medical Attention

If someone is experiencing one or more of the following danger signs, call 911 or go to an emergency department right away:

  • One pupil larger than the other
  • Is drowsy or cannot be awakened
  • Has a headache that gets worse
  • Weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination
  • Repeated vomiting or nausea
  • Slurred speech
  • Convulsions or seizures
  • Cannot recognize people or places
  • Becomes increasingly confused, restless, or agitated
  • Has unusual behavior
  • Loses consciousness (even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously)

Continue to Pay Attention to Concussion Warning Signs

However, the full effect of the injury may not be noticeable at first. For example, in the first few minutes after the injury, someone might be just slightly confused or appear a little bit dazed; but an hour later, they can’t even recall what they were doing before the injury.

Repeatedly check for signs of concussions. Any worsening of concussion signs or symptoms indicates a medical emergency.

Also, please keep in mind, in rare cases, a dangerous blood clot may form on the brain with a concussion and crowd the brain against the skull. This can be life-threatening and requires immediate attention.

Content Source: Courtesy of CDC’s Heads Up Program. Created through a grant to the CDC Foundation from the National Operating Committee on Standards for Athletic Equipment (NOCSAE).