What should I do if a Concussion Occurs?

People with a concussion need to be seen by a health care professional.  If you think you or someone you know has a concussion, contact your health care professional. Your health care professional can evaluate your concussion and determine if you need to be referred to a neurologist, neuropsychologist, neurosurgeon, or specialist in rehabilitation (such as a speech pathologist) for specialized care. Getting help soon after the injury by trained specialists may improve recovery.

See Signs and Symptoms, to learn about common signs and symptoms that you may experience, and to learn about danger signs and when to seek immediate medical attention.

 

What to Expect When You See a Health Care Professional

While most people are seen in an emergency department or medical office, some people must stay in the hospital overnight. Your health care professional may do a scan of your brain (such as a CT scan) or other tests. Additional tests might be necessary, such as tests of your learning, memory concentration, and problem solving.  These tests are called “neuropsychological” or “neurocognitive” tests and can help your health care professional identify the effects of a concussion. Even if the concussion doesn’t show up on these tests, you may still have a concussion.

Your health care professional will send you home with important instructions to follow. Be sure to follow all of your health care professional’s instructions carefully.

If you are taking medications—prescription, over-the-counter medicines, or “natural remedies”—or if you drink alcohol or take illicit drugs, tell your health care professional. Also, tell your health care professional if you are taking blood thinners (anticoagulant drugs), such as Coumadin and aspirin, because they can increase the chance of complications.

See Getting Better, for tips to help aid your recovery after a concussion.

References

  1. Taylor CA, Bell JM, Breiding MJ, Xu L. Traumatic Brain Injury–Related Emergency Department Visits, Hospitalizations, and Deaths — United States, 2007 and 2013. MMWR Surveill Summ 2017;66(No. SS-9):1–16. DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.15585/mmwr.ss6609a1 

  2. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), National Center for Injury Prevention and Control. Report to Congress on mild traumatic brain injury in the United States: steps to prevent a serious public health problem. Atlanta (GA): Centers for Disease Control and Prevention; 2003.

  3. Coronado VG, Haileyesus T, Cheng TA, Bell JM, Haarbauer-Krupa J, Lionbarger MR, Flores-Herrera J, McGuire LC, Gilchrist J. Trends in sports- and recreation-related traumatic brain injuries treated in US emergency departments: The National Electronic Injury Surveillance System-All Injury Program (NEISS-AIP) 2001-2012. J Head Trauma Rehabil 2015; 30 (3): 185–197.