Concussions and Headaches

What is a Concussion?

concussion is a complex brain injury. It is caused by a blow to the head or to the body that puts large forces on the brain. Concussion symptoms improve or resolve by 7 to 10 days in most patients. However, for reasons that are not well understood, children and adolescents may take more time to recover. A concussion can have many different symptoms. These include:

  • Headache, dizziness, light sensitivity, sound sensitivity
  • Cognitive changes (loss of consciousness, amnesia after the injury, confusion, feeling “in a fog,” slowed reaction times, and a change in the ability to focus)
  • Emotional symptoms (mood swings, depression, anxiety)
  • Behavioral changes (irritability, change in appetite, change in personality)
  • Sleep disturbance

If a concussion is suspected, the child should be evaluated by a trained medical provider who is familiar with concussions. The child should stop activity right away and should not resume activity until he or she is evaluated and cleared. There is a step-by-step process to return to daily activities, school and sports. The primary care provider, athletic trainer, sports medicine provider or neurologist will monitor symptoms and make treatment recommendations.

What is a Post-Traumatic or Post-Concussive Headache?

A post-traumatic or post-concussive headache is a headache that begins within 7 days after a head injury. For most people, these stop with other concussion symptoms. If the headaches continue for a longer time, they are often treated like other types of chronic headaches.

A Parent's Guide to Concussions