Concussion Signs and Symptoms :: Nationwide Children's Hospital

Concussion Signs and Symptoms

How do I tell if an athlete has sustained a concussion?

An athlete may complain of many different concussion symptoms that can be grouped into four general categories:  physical, cognitive, emotional and sleep.






Feeling mentally foggy


Trouble falling asleep


Feeling slowed down


Sleeping more than usual

Balance problems

Difficulty concentrating


Sleeping less than usual


Difficulty remembering

More emotional than usual



Difficulty focusing



Sensitivity to light




Sensitivity to noise




Furthermore, here are some signs that may be observed by people around the athlete, such as teammates, coaches, or parents. 

The athlete…

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

While a blow to the head may not always seem like a big deal at the time, concussion symptoms can develop immediately or up to 48 hours after the incident. Ignoring any signs or symptoms of a concussion is putting the child’s health at risk – in both the short and long term.

For more information about what to do after a concussion has been identified, why playing through a concussion is dangerous, and how to help an athlete get better faster, visit our Concussion Toolkit page and pick the guide that is right for you!

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