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Physiothérapie Avantex / concussion  / Think you might have a concussion?

Think you might have a concussion?


March is Brain Injury Awareness Month, and there is no better way to mark the occasion than by helping to share knowledge about concussions, how they can happen, and how to recognize if you have one.

What is a concussion?

According to the Concussion in Sport Consensus Guidelines, concussion:

  • may be caused either by a direct blow to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body with an impulsive force transmitted to the head.
  • typically results in the rapid onset of short-lived impairment of neurological function that resolves spontaneously. However, in some cases, signs and symptoms evolve over a number of minutes to hours.
  • no abnormality is seen on standard structural neuroimaging studies.
  • may or may not involve loss of consciousness

While most people think of concussions as happening in sport, we know that concussions can happen in many other ways at well. In the clinic, we see people with concussions from falls, car accidents, sports accidents and various random head traumas. 

Whether you hit your head during a football practice or while fixing the kitchen sink, the important thing is to recognize a concussion when it happens.

Here are some things to look for if you think you or someone around you may have had a concussion

  1. What to Look for

Loss of consciousness, confusion, looking dazed or being slow to get up.

If you observe any of these signs in a person who has just had a head impact, chances are good that they’ve sustained a concussion.

  1. Symptoms: What a concussion feels like

Headache, dizziness, blurred vision, head pressure, feeling foggy, feeling slow, not feeling right, having difficulty concentrating.

The symptoms of a concussion can vary from person to person. Not everyone who has a concussion will have all of the symptoms, but even one of the above that appears after a big hit can signal a concussion.

  1. Poor memory

If someone around you has a head trauma and can’t remember basic details like where they are, what they’re doing, what the score is of the game they’re playing or who the opposing team is, they’ve probably sustained a concussion.

What to do?

If you think that you or someone around you may have had a concussion, the first thing to do is to get them out of danger. Stop whatever the activity is that caused the concussion immediately. An athlete that has had a concussion must stop playing immediately.

Observe the person for the signs and symptoms listed above. If they seem confused, slow, or are stumbling, a concussion is likely. If they’re also complaining of dizziness, headache or blurred vision, chances are strong that a concussion occurred. You can ask your friend a few questions like “Where are we?”, “Do you know what the date is?” or “What team are we playing right now?”. If they have trouble answering, you can be pretty sure that they have a concussion.

If you think a friend or teammate may have had a concussion, get them checked out by a knowledgeable professional. If the injury happened during a sporting event, see if there is a physiotherapist or athletic therapist on sidelines. That person can perform a complete sideline assessment and determine if a concussion occurred.

Not in a sport context? See your family doctor or nurse practitioner. They can confirm the diagnosis of concussion and rule out any red flags.

Red Flags

Red flags are signs that there may be a more serious injury than a simple concussion. If you observe any of the following, get medical care immediately.

  • Repeated vomiting
  • Deteriorating consciousness
  • Neck pain
  • Seizure or convulsion
  • Double vision
  • Worsening headache
  • Weakness or tingling in arms/legs
  • Unusual behaviour change

If these signs and symptoms are present in the context of a head trauma, they are signs of serious brain or spinal cord injury and you should consider calling 911.

What not to do!

If you think you or a teammate has sustained a concussion, make sure that they don’t:

  1. Stay in the game: if a concussion occurred, the player must stop playing immediately. When in doubt, sit it out!
  1. Shake it off: there is no such thing as shaking it off. A concussion is a serious brain injury and should be treated as such.
  1. Ignore red flags: red flags are signs of serious injury and the person should be evaluated by a doctor urgently

The next steps

If you have been diagnosed with a concussion, proper care is needed to get back to normal and avoid prolonged symptoms. An expert physiotherapist can help guide you through return to play, work and school. They can help design a rehab plan based on your specific symptoms, which works towards your specific goals. They can help guide your recovery and help you get back to normal safely. 

Do you think you’ve had a concussion? Make an appointment with one of our physiotherapists today. They can help you get your symptoms under control and start feeling like you again.


  1. McCrory P, Meeuwisse W, Dvorak J, et alConsensus statement on concussion in sport—the 5th international conference on concussion in sport held in Berlin, October 2016British Journal of Sports Medicine 2017;51:838-847.
  1. Pocket Concussion Recognition Tool.  McCrory et. al, Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport. Br J Sports Med 47 (5), 2013

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