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March 15, 2024

Deciphering the Signs: A Comprehensive Guide to Assessing Concussion Symptoms with Rock Vomer, DO, DPT, CAQSM

by Rock Vomer, DO, DPT, CAQSM

Concussions, often referred to as silent injuries, can be challenging to detect immediately. Understanding the symptoms is crucial for prompt medical attention and effective recovery. In this guide, we will explore the various ways to assess and recognize concussion symptoms, empowering individuals to take informed action when needed.

The Initial Impact: Recognizing the Immediate Signs of a Concussion


One of the most common and immediate symptoms of a concussion is a persistent headache. If you’ve experienced a blow to the head and notice a throbbing or constant headache, it could be an indication of a concussion.

Dizziness and Disorientation

Feeling lightheaded, dizzy, or disoriented is another typical sign. If you struggle to maintain balance, experience vertigo, or find it challenging to stay focused, these could be red flags of a potential concussion.

Nausea and Vomiting

Concussions often trigger nausea and, in some cases, vomiting. If you feel queasy or find yourself vomiting after a head injury, it is essential to seek medical attention promptly.

Sensitivity to Light and Noise

Increased sensitivity to light or noise is a telltale sign of a concussion. If you find yourself squinting in well-lit areas or cringing at even moderate sounds, it’s important to consider the possibility of a head injury.

The Delayed Onset: Monitoring Subtle Symptoms of a Concussion

Delayed Headache

Some individuals may not experience an immediate headache but develop one in the hours or days following the injury. If you notice the onset of a headache after a head impact, it is crucial to consult with a healthcare professional.

Cognitive Changes

Concussions can affect cognitive functions, leading to changes in memory, concentration, and overall mental clarity. If you struggle to remember recent events or find it hard to focus on tasks, it’s advisable to seek medical evaluation.

Emotional Changes

Mood swings, irritability, and unexplained changes in emotions can be indicators of a concussion. Pay attention to sudden shifts in mood or behavior that seem out of character.

Sleep Disturbances

Changes in sleep patterns, such as insomnia or excessive drowsiness, can be associated with concussions. If you notice disruptions in your regular sleep routine after a head injury, it’s essential to bring this to the attention of healthcare professionals.

Seeking Professional Evaluation

Medical Examination

If you suspect a concussion based on the symptoms mentioned, seeking prompt medical attention is crucial. A healthcare professional will conduct a comprehensive examination, assessing physical and cognitive functions, and may order imaging tests to confirm the diagnosis.

Neurological Assessment

Healthcare providers will perform neurological assessments to evaluate reflexes, coordination, and sensory functions. These tests help determine the extent of the injury and guide the development of a tailored recovery plan.

Imaging Tests

In some cases, imaging tests such as CT scans or MRIs may be recommended to assess any structural damage to the brain. These tests provide valuable insights that aid in determining the appropriate course of treatment.

Consulting a Specialist

Depending on the severity of the concussion and specific symptoms, consulting with specialists such as neurologists or concussion experts may be beneficial for a more targeted and comprehensive approach to recovery.

Monitoring and Managing Recovery

Rest and Cognitive Recovery

Following a concussion diagnosis, it is crucial to prioritize both physical and cognitive rest. Avoiding mentally demanding activities, limiting screen time, and getting adequate sleep are essential components of the recovery process.

Gradual Return to Activities

Recovery involves a gradual return to regular activities, including work, school, and physical exercise. This process should be guided by healthcare professionals to ensure a safe and successful transition without risking setbacks.

Emotional Support

Coping with a concussion can be emotionally challenging. Seeking support from friends, family, or mental health professionals can aid in managing stress and emotional well-being throughout the recovery journey.

Recognizing concussion symptoms is a crucial step towards ensuring prompt and effective treatment. From immediate signs like headaches and dizziness to subtler symptoms like cognitive changes and emotional shifts, this guide provides a comprehensive overview to help individuals assess and understand the potential indicators of a concussion. If in doubt, seeking professional medical evaluation is always the best course of action to ensure a thorough assessment and a well-guided path to recovery.

At Avance Care Wilmington, we offer state of the art technology and equipment to assess, treat, and manage concussions, as well as priority appointments for those with a suspected concussion. Visit our page to learn more.

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