The most widespread type of mild brain injury, concussions cause head trauma and temporarily alter the workings of your brain. This can manifest in weakened capacities for judgement, memory, balance or even speech. The injury is especially common to players of contact sports.


Concussions are not always related to loss of consciousness or ‘blacking out,’ but this might occur after the strike to the head. Other symptoms are not always readily noticeable, particularly as one of the most prominent is memory loss, often of the impact itself. Further variations of this temporary amnesia are common, as is confusion, dizziness, headache, a change in speech, and nausea. You may also find yourself fatigued or experiencing a ringing in your ears (tinnitus).

Symptoms can be long-term and many are not discernible until hours or even days have passed, such as mood imbalances like depression or irritability, insomnia, and trouble concentrating. Light or sound sensitivity may also be heightened.


A brutal strike to the head, for example from a fall or the impact of a ball at high speed, can cause the brain to crash against the inside of the skull with little protection from its natural cushion, resulting in bleeding in or beside the brain and interfering with some of its functions. Blunt trauma is not the only potential cause, however, as a large enough force without direct contact to the head – such as when a person is thrown forwards in a car accident – can also provoke this movement of the brain.


Immediately following head trauma you should seek emergency medical care for any person who has passed out, appears to be suffering from seizures, continually vomits, or has trouble with basic movement, balance or mental processes. In some cases these symptoms are not immediately apparent and many people have suffered from a concussion without even realising. Fortunately most concussions heal themselves over time, but some require medical attention. If you are not hospitalised after a concussion it is important that somebody keeps an eye on your condition for a day or two.

It is sensible to consult a doctor if you experience prolonged memory loss or mood problems, extensive vomiting and nausea, a lack of balance or diminished senses of taste or smell. Your doctor may conduct a neurological examination, focusing on memory and attention, balance and coordination, reflexes, and senses like vision and hearing. This is in order to establish whether the concussion is severe and may have caused considerable bleeding or inflammation. More serious prognoses can require a CT scan to check for internal damage.

Generally you should take substantial rest following a concussion, and only take pain medication that the doctor has approved due to the risk of anti-inflammatory remedies exacerbating your injury. Do not return to playing sports too soon, as the danger of a further concussion is far greater.


During sports which involve the potential of falling, such as cycling, skiing or riding horses, wear a suitable protective helmet to help cushion any blows. Also consider the type of footwear you use for each activity, assessing how appropriate they are and whether they contribute to or hinder your balance.

Find a Sports Injury Clinic

- OR -

Latest Articles