The Short and Long Term Symptoms of a Concussion

Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist, discusses concussion symptoms and diagnosis.

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Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist, discusses concussion symptoms and diagnosis.
Video transcript

Featuring Dr. Dean Johnston, MD, MHSc, FRCPC, Neurologist

Duration: 2 minutes, 24 seconds

The symptoms of concussion are really broken up into three areas.

Concussion can produce problems with thinking, can produce physical symptoms, and can produce emotional symptoms. Most of those symptoms occur immediately after the impact, and it’s important to remember that loss of consciousness is not necessary to experience a concussion.

The typical cognitive or thinking symptoms that patients experience immediately after a blow to the head are confusion and loss of memory. Patients may have disorganized thinking. They may have trouble sequencing events, and they may have trouble pursuing goal-directed activities.

They may forget the recent information, things that they’re told, and they may be disoriented. Physical symptoms of concussion can include imbalance, headache, nausea and/or vomiting, sensitivity to light and sound, ringing in the ear, and blurred or double vision.

The third group of typical symptoms associated with acute concussion are emotional, and that may present itself as irritability or aggressiveness or tearfulness. Many patients will suffer prolonged symptoms after concussion that can last days, weeks or months.

And these patients, we term them as suffering from the post-concussion syndrome. Symptoms of the post-concussion syndrome are very similar to a concussion, although some symptoms take prominence in this situation, and those include headache, memory loss, poor concentration, impaired focus, emotional problems, including depression and irritability, and disruptive sleep.

Additional symptoms that patients with post-concussion syndrome might experience are the feeling of being easily overwhelmed. They may become sensitive to stimuli such as sound or light. They may have fatigue and difficulty with motivation.

They frequently have sleeping problems, difficulty with falling asleep or staying asleep, and in some cases, patients will sleep more than usual. They may become socially withdrawn.

They may complain of difficulty with organizing tasks or planning their days, and all of these symptoms can have severe impacts on their relationships, on their work, and on their schooling.

As many as three-quarters of patients who suffer a concussion may develop post-concussion syndrome. If you feel you have symptoms of post-concussion syndrome, you should discuss it with your doctor.

Presenter: Dr. Dean Johnston, Neurologist, Vancouver, BC

Local Practitioners: Neurologist

This content is for informational purposes only, and is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. Always seek the advice of your physician or other qualified healthcare professional with any questions you may have regarding a medical condition.

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