American Osteopathic Association

Advancing the distinctive philosophy and practice of osteopathic medicine

Concussion Awareness 101

"A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that can be caused by a bump or a blow to the head. If you suspect that you or your child might have a concussion, it is important to get a diagnosis from a medical professional and seek treatment, even if it means missing school or work. If you don't take time to rest and let your body heal, it will only make the symptoms worse."

Jeffrey R. Bytomski, DO
Osteopathic Family Physician
Duke University Medical Center
Durham, N.C.

Concussion Symptoms

Did you know that the following are all among the symptoms of a concussion? Some symptoms may appear immediately after trauma to the head while others can take several days to appear.

  • Pain in the area of head injury
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Confusion or inability to focus
  • Memory loss or cognitive difficulties
  • Coordination and motor skill difficulties
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Slurred or incoherent speech
  • Irritability or anxiety
  • Depression
  • Loss of consciousness

What to do if you think you have a concussion

  • Get a diagnosis by a medical professional.

  • Avoid activities requiring physical exertion or mental concentration.

  • Apply an ice pack.

  • Drink fluids; avoid caffeine and alcohol.

  • Take medication (e.g. anti-nausea, pain killers).

Safety tips for the whole family to avoid a concussion

  • Wear helmets and use protective gear when playing sports, riding bicycles or doing other strenuous activities.

  • Make sure protective equipment, like a helmet, fits properly and is well-maintained.

  • Know your children's school or sports league’s concussion policy. If they don’t have one, encourage the school/school district or league to create one.

  • Always wear a seatbelt when driving or riding in a vehicle.

  • Install home window guards to prevent children from falling out a window.

  • Use safety gates at both the top and bottom of stairs to prevent children from falling down the stairs.

  • Pay attention to hazards such as open cabinet doors that someone could hit their head on or objects on the floor which could easily be tripped over.   

This guide is not intended to substitute the medical opinion or examination of a health care professional and should be interpreted based on the individual needs and symptoms of the patient. If you think you may have a medical emergency, immediately call your physician or dial 911.



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