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Concussion

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Summary

Concussion is an extremely common type of brain injury, caused by a blow or sharp knock to the skull. They are often sustained by adults who participate in contact sports, as well as children. Concussion is often be referred to as a ‘minor head injury’, ‘mild traumatic brain injury’, ‘minor head trauma’ or ‘mild brain injury’.

Undertaking a concussion treatment and recovery program is an effective way of managing and monitoring the symptoms of concussion.

Quick facts

Extremely common
Low difficulty to treat

Did you know?

Roughly 20% of children playing sport are diagnosed with concussion

source: Wikipedia

Concussion happens when a blow or knock to the head causes the brain to move around inside the skull and against facial bones. Although some concussions may cause temporary unconsciousness, many do not, which means that often people don’t know they have one. It’s important to seek medical advice after sustaining any kind of head injury, as a concussion may result in the brain swelling or even bleeding in extreme cases.

Rest is extremely important to rest after sustaining a concussion, as the body needs time to heal and for swelling to go down if it has occurred. Sufferers should avoid returning to work, school and especially sport until they have fully recovered, as repeat concussions can lead to slower recovery, more serious brain damage or in very rare cases, death.

For those with more serious symptoms, a concussion treatment and recovery program – overseen by a clinic neuropsychologist – can assist sufferers to manage, treat and monitor their concussion, ensuring the best chance of a full recovery.

Causes of concussion

Concussion can be sustained in a variety of situations and circumstances, including:

  • Sports injuries
  • Car accident
  • Being violently shaken
  • Whiplash
  • Workplace injuries
  • Receiving a blow to the head
  • Falling
  • Combat

Symptoms of concussion

Signs of a concussion may appear immediately after the head injury, while others may take days or even weeks to show. Some of these symptoms may include:

  • Seizures
  • Problems with vision
  • Increasing headache
  • Worsening symptoms
  • Irritability/mood swings
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Concentration problems
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Light sensitivity
  • Ongoing vomiting
  • Loss of consciousness for longer than 30 seconds
  • Lack of physical coordination
  • Problems with mental function
  • Memory loss
  • Slurred speech
  • Lasting dizziness
  • Personality changes

Top tips for preventing concussion

  • wear protective gear when playing high impact sports
  • enforce good sportsmanship and adhere to the rules when playing sports
  • always wear a helmet when riding a bicycle, skateboard or roller skates/blades
  • exercise regularly to improve balance and muscle strength
  • child-proof your home if you have younger offspring
  • always wear a seatbelt when travelling inside a moving vehicle
  • seek medical advice if you experience regular dizziness or unsteadiness

Effective treatment of concussion

If you suspect that either you or someone you know might have a concussion, you should speak to a doctor or clinician to ensure an accurate diagnosis and management plan. Very rarely is a concussion life-threatening, however it’s important that an assessment is made to eliminate the risk of a more serious brain injury going undiagnosed and untreated.

Usually the best treatment for concussion is rest, supplemented with mild painkillers for headaches and icepacks for sore or swollen areas. It is recommended to avoid food or drink for the first 6-12 hours. Sports and vigorous exercise should be avoided until full recovery has been reached.

A concussion treatment and recovery program managed by a neuropsychologist can also help to rehabilitate and monitor the patient, whilst liaising with their GP.


This page has been produced, reviewed and approved by:

Dr Judy Tang

BSc (Behavioural Neuroscience & Psychology), PhD (Clinical Neuropsychology) MAPS

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Dr Judy Tang has over 10 years of career and academic expertise in Clinical Neuropsychology.

With a PhD in Clinical Neuropsychology from Monash University (2008) and a Bachelor of Science with honours (majoring in psychology and behavioural neuroscience), she provides neuropsychological services for medico-legal and community settings, workshops and seminars both to her professional peers and wider community, as well as advocacy in the areas of health and community care.

Simultaneously, she also works with the Lincoln Centre for Research on Ageing, researching persons with dementia and their carers, as well as the ACAS evaluation unit. Her mastery of quantitative research has been utilised on the state and national level for its Aged Care Assessment Program. She has also worked as a Rehabilitation Consultant for CRS Australia.

Among numerous organizations, she is an executive member of the Australian Association of Gerontology’s Victorian branch (AAG), a member of the Australian Psychological Society (APS), the college of Clinical Neuropsychologists (CCN), and the Victorian Police and Multicultural Advisory Committee.

In addition to speaking frequently at professional seminars and conferences around the world, Judy is also published in numerous journals on such topics as healthy ageing, anxiety and pain, and dementia.


This document was last updated and reviewed in May 2016.

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