Living Guideline Post-Concussion
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a brain injury that affects how the brain works. A concussion can‘t be seen on x-rays or brain scans. Use this Post-Concussion Information Sheet to help you understand what to do, where to get help, and how to get better safely after a concussion.
What causes a concussion?
Any blow or hit to the head, face, neck, or body that causes sudden shaking of the head can cause a concussion. Concussions can happen from falling, during sports like hockey, soccer, or volleyball, or during motor vehicle collisions.
When should a concussion be suspected?
A concussion should be suspected after any blow to the head, face, neck, or body and if the person shows ANY of the signs or symptoms of a concussion. Symptoms of concussion describe how someone feels after they are injured. A person does not have to be knocked out (blackout or unconscious) to have a concussion. Some symptoms may not appear until the next day. Common symptoms of a concussion are:
|• Headache or head pressure
|• Balance problems
|Nervous or anxious
|• Feeling slow, tired, or having no energy
|Feeling more emotional
|• Nausea and vomiting
|• Not thinking clearly
|Sleeping more or less
• Blurred or fuzzy vision
|• Easily upset or angered
|Having a hard time falling asleep
|• Sensitivity to light or sound
|Difficulty working on a computer
|• Difficulty reading or remembering
What are the visible (can be seen) signs of a concussion?
Signs of concussion describe how a person looks or acts when they are injured. Common signs of a concussion are:
|• Lying still on the ground or ice
|• Blank stare
|• Slow to get up
|• Difficulty walking or standing
|• Confused or can’t answer questions
|• Injury to their face or holding their head
|• Emotional lability
What should someone do if they think they or a friend has a concussion?
Stop the activity right away and see a medical doctor or nurse practitioner if a concussion is suspected. Everyone with a concussion needs to see a doctor or nurse practitioner before returning to full contact sport or high-risk activities.
When should someone with a concussion go back to see a doctor or nurse?
Go back and see the doctor or nurse if any of the following signs or symptoms are present: Increased confusion, worsening headache, vomiting more than once, seizures, not waking up, trouble walking, difficulty talking, strange behaviour.
What are some tips for recovering from a concussion?
|✔ Return to activities (without risk of head impact) that can be tolerated
|✔ Spend time with friends and family
|✔ A mild increase in symptoms is OK
|✔ Avoid drugs and alcohol
|✔ Avoid activities that involve a risk of falling or body contact
|✔ Go to all medical appointments
|✔ Get regular amounts of sleep
|✔ Drink water and eat balanced meals
If school is more difficult or the person feels sadder or more nervous than normal, they should tell someone they are comfortable with. This might be a trusted friend, family member, teacher, guidance counsellor, doctor, nurse, or Elder.
Red flag symptoms’ that may indicate a more serious injury (severe or worsening headache, neck pain or tenderness, double vision, seizures or convulsions, loss of consciousness, increase in confusion, restlessness, agitation, or aggressive behaviours, repeated vomiting, or slurred speech) call an ambulance as soon as possible. Symptoms may appear right away or up to a couple of days after the injury.
When can a person return to sports, activities, and school after a concussion?
Begin by doing light activities for the first 1-2 days. After this short relative rest, start activities (physical and thinking) that can be tolerated. A mild increase in symptoms is OK. Light activity is encouraged 1-2 days after a concussion, even if the person still has symptoms. Avoid any activity where the person could fall or hit their head. Resting completely for more than 1-2 days after a concussion may slow recovery.
Use the steps below to guide a gradual return to activities, sports, and school. If symptoms can not be tolerated, modify your activity or try it again the next day. It is important to get medical clearance before returning to full contact sport or high-risk activities. Getting back to school as soon as you can is important and missing more than one week of school is not suggested. You do not need a note from your Doctor to return to school. The below protocols can be downloaded here.
These definitions and instructions were harmonized with and modified with permission from the Amsterdam International Consensus Statement on Concussion in Sport)
How long does it take a child/adolescent to recover after a concussion?
Most children/adolescents with a concussion will recover in 1-4 weeks, but it can take longer for some people.
What can happen if a child/adolescent goes back to full-contact sports or game-play too early after a concussion?
If children/adolescents with a concussion go back to activities that include a risk of hitting their head or falling down again too early after a concussion, they can have another injury. Having another injury can lead to worse symptoms that last longer, or result in a more severe or fatal brain injury.
How can children/adolescents help prevent concussions and their consequences?
To prevent concussions, children/adolescents should follow the rules of their sport, respect their opponents, and avoid head contact. Youth should always wear helmets during outdoor activities such as skating or riding bikes, snowmobiles, or all-terrain vehicles.
It is important for children/adolescents to tell parents, teachers, or coaches if they think anyone may have a concussion.
Click here to download and print this Post-Concussion Information Sheet.