Concussion is a minor head injury caused by force to the head. Most people who have concussion will recover on their own within 2 weeks, but complications can occur. It is important that people with concussion rest and that their recovery is monitored.
What causes concussion?
Concussion is a common head injury in contact sports, such as Australian rules football, rugby league and rugby. People can also be concussed in anything with a risk of falls, such as horse riding, cycling and skiing.
People can also get concussion outside of sports. This can be a bang on the head from falling over, or from a sudden and vigorous movement of the head, such as a whiplash injury from a car accident.
Concussion signs and symptoms
People who have concussion may have:
- problems with balance
- problems with attention
- loss of consciousness (30 minutes or less)
- sensitivity to noise and light
- brief convulsions
- temporary memory loss
If you have had concussion, it is important to see a doctor. Do not drive and don't take medicines like aspirin, anti-inflammatories, sleeping tablets and sedating pain medications until your doctor tells you it's ok. Your doctor may order a head scan. Some people are kept in hospital for observation. It is important that, after concussion, you are with other people until you recover.
If you have had concussion, you need to rest, both physically and mentally. Children should stay home from school and not use a computer or play video games. The return to school might need to be gradual. You can slowly return to normal mental and physical activities when you have had a minimum of 24 hours without any symptoms.
If you have had concussion, you should not play sport until you are fully recovered as the brain is more vulnerable to a more serious brain injury if another blow occurs. Anybody who is suspected of having concussion while they're playing sport should sit out the rest of the game.
Most people recover fully within 2 weeks. Some people have symptoms for longer.
A small number of people have longer-term complications. Some have symptoms that last a long time. Some get repeated concussions. People in these situations should see a doctor.
Last reviewed: January 2018