Concussion Education: Signs and Symptoms


Concussion Signs & Symptoms

The symptoms of a concussion can vary from person-to-person, and they don’t present all at once: in fact, issues may not show up for hours, days, or weeks after an incident. 


These aren’t the only warning signs to watch out for, either. After a possible concussion, a person may report that they’re not feeling well without going into specifics. If you suspect an athlete of being concussed, watch them closely for any of the following signs or symptoms:


Physical Issues

      • Loss of consciousness
      • Dazed look
      • Headache
      • Pressure in the head
      • Dizziness
      • Blurred or double vision
      • Nausea or vomiting
      • Drowsiness
      • Difficulty with balance
      • Sensitivity to noise or light
      • Slowed reaction times
      • Changes in sleeping patterns, including insomnia

Behavioural Changes

      • Depression
      • Sadness
      • Irritability
      • Nervousness
      • Drowsiness
      • Decreased interest in social activities
      • Involuntary or uncontrollable outbursts

Memory Problems

      • Amnesia
      • Difficulty remembering
      • Difficulty concentrating
      • Feeling “foggy”
      • Slow to answer questions

Second Impact Syndrome

Second Impact Syndrome (SIS) can occur if a person sustains a second concussion before their first one has had time to heal. SIS causes rapid and severe swelling of the brain and is a risk that should be taken very seriously. It’s rare, but it can be fatal.


Concussion Recovery

If the brain is allowed to heal properly, a single concussion doesn’t have to impact an athlete’s future participation in sports. Determining whether an athlete is ready to return to play requires careful evaluation and management to avoid re-injury. The latest consensus on concussion in sport includes the following strategies for gradual return-to-sport and return-to-school:



The recovery process following a concussion and the eventual return-to-sport decision should follow a graduated rehabilitation strategy. This strategy continues to evolve in pace with the latest research.


All athletes should be managed by the same standards—it’s essential to not make any special allowances for an individual’s athletic ability or the needs of the team.


After an initial rest period of 24-48 hours, the affected athlete can begin “symptom-limited” activity or daily activities that don’t provoke or aggravate symptoms. The athlete should be monitored by a healthcare professional, only advancing to the next step when they’re free of concussion-related symptoms. Learn More>>



It’s crucial to support students returning to school after a concussion. 


Cognitive difficulties, including struggling to learn new materials or recall previous studies, may prove challenging. Depending on the type of symptoms the student is managing, various accommodations may be requested. These can include schedule modifications, reduced cognitive loading, extra support, or extended learning times. 


The appropriate return-to-learn plan should be developed in collaboration with the athlete, their family, teachers, and medical professional. 


Continue Your Concussion Training

For further concussion research, online training, and free resources, check out our Concussion Training information.


Other Useful Resources


Parachute Canada

American Academy of Neurology

Canadian Concussion Collaborative

Pink Concussions

Concussion Legacy Foundation


Assessment Tools


Concussion Recognition Tool 5



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Make HeadCheck part of a safe and healthy sports environment for your children. 

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