How to tell if you have a concussion

It may not feel like it until hours or days later, but concussions can stop you in your tracks and put a hold on your day-to-day activities. Concussions are something you’ll want to get looked at by an athletic trainer or doctor immediately because they can have serious symptoms and side effects.

At NMC Health Orthopedics & Sports Specialists, we’re here to help treat your concussion quickly so you can start healing and get back in the game. Don’t let concussions sideline you for longer than necessary. Let our team help you recover and get back in the action.

If you have a medical emergency, call 911 or visit the NMC Health Medical Center Emergency Department.

How to prevent concussions

Nobody wants to get a concussion. You can reduce your risk of getting hurt while playing sports by doing the following:

  • Avoid football techniques like spearing and headbutting, even while wearing a helmet
  • Avoid heading the ball in soccer
  • Be vigilant to protect yourself by wearing the appropriate equipment and remember that helmets and mouth guards do not prevent concussions
  • Don’t ignore symptoms of a concussions and get help immediately


Car crashes can also cause concussions. Protect yourself by driving a vehicle that has airbags, wearing your seatbelt and obeying the rules of the road.

If your child has suffered a concussion, be protective of them and make sure all their symptoms are gone before they’re allowed to return to sports or other physical activity. This will help them avoid second-impact syndrome.

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FAQs

Concussions are traumatic brain injuries that result in the swelling of your brain inside your skull. They typically happen after you’ve been hit in the head. When your brain shakes around in your skull, it can begin to swell to protect itself. This can cause headaches, memory problems, concentration issues and difficulty with balance and coordination.

Concussions can happen during high-contact sports like football and boxing, but can also happen while during basketball, soccer, gymnastics and many other activities.

Sometimes, concussions can cause you to lose consciousness, but most of the time you might not notice you have one until symptoms show up later. Here are some common concussion symptoms:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness or drowsiness
  • Ringing in your ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion
  • Sudden mood swings
  • Slurred speech
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Problems sleeping
  • Seizures

Concussion symptoms usually impact a person for a week to 10 days, but they can last up to three months. If you’ve been experiencing concussion symptoms for longer than 24 hours, make an appointment with your doctor or an athletic trainer immediately. With treatment, you can manage your symptoms and work to avoid any permanent damage.

It’s always a good idea to see a doctor within 24 hours of a traumatic head injury, especially if you’re an athlete. If you lose consciousness or black out for more than 30 seconds, you should seek emergency care. Here are some other symptoms to look for that will require a trip to the ER:

  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blood coming from nose or ears
  • A headache that gets worse over time
  • Ringing in the ears that doesn’t go away
  • Seizures
  • Symptoms that get worse over time

Athletes shouldn’t continue to play sports or remain active while they have symptoms of a concussion. See a doctor and get checked out before returning to sports. Your doctor will tell you when it’s safe to get back on the field or court.

NMC Health Orthopedics & Sports Medicine specializes in concussion treatment for athletes. You can stop by our clinic Mondays through Wednesday from 8-10 a.m. to see a certified athletic trainer. You do not need to make an appointment, but make sure you call ahead for availability.

This visit could be crucial in your recovery. If not managed correctly, concussions can lead to long-term effects and even death.

If you’re being checked for a concussion, a doctor will ask questions to test your ability to pay attention as well as test your memory function. You will be tested on your strength, balance, reflexes and coordination. Your doctor might also order some diagnostic imaging tests like a CT scan or an MRI to make sure your brain isn’t bleeding.

If you’ve had a concussion, the doctor will give you tips on how to treat it and recommend you not participate in sports for a week or more, or until your brain heals.

Though there’s no cure for a concussion, there are effective treatments. Your doctor will tell you the best ways to treat your concussion at home after being evaluated. Usually, rest is the best way to recover. This means you should limit your physical activity, screen time and stimulation from socializing. Your doctor may prescribe you something for pain or nausea or suggest you take an over the counter medicine. Be sure to take all medicines as directed and under the supervision of your doctor.

If left unchecked, concussions can have serious long-term complications including:

  • Recurring headaches
  • Recurring dizziness
  • Post-concussion syndrome with symptoms lasting longer than three months
  • Second impact syndrome with potentially deadly brain swelling

In order to avoid more serious symptoms and complications, it is important to make sure your concussion is properly treated before you return to your normal activities. NMC Health Physical Therapy & Rehabilitation can help.

You might be sent to physical therapy to help you recover from a concussion. Physical therapists can help you build your stamina and endurance back up after you’ve gotten a concussion.

After you rest for the appropriate amount of time after your concussion, you might experience some muscle weakness and feel more tired after exercise. A physical therapist can help you plan a healthy exercise routine that may get you back to your activity level before your concussion. 

They’ll help you with balance, give you exercises to limit headaches and help you gradually get back to doing what you love. It might take time and patience, but our expert team will be here for you every step of the way.