What is concussion?

A concussion is an injury to the brain caused by a direct or indirect blow to the head or caused by the head striking something else such as the ground or an apparent body part if playing sport. A concussion can occur whether or not a person is ‘knocked out’/lost consciousness.

A concussion typically causes the rapid onset of short-lived impairment of brain function that resolves spontaneously with time, however, occasionally there can be a more significant or longer lasting problem, and it is important that the symptoms from every concussion be monitored by doctors who understand concussion management protocols when you suffer a concussion, you may experience:

  • Physical symptoms e.g. headaches, nausea, dizziness, tiredness, intolerance of bright light.
  • Concentration difficulties, memory loss, difficulty reading or using computer 
  • Emotional changes such as mood swings, irritability and aggression
  • Sleeping pattern changes – sleeping more or difficulty falling asleep


Concussion usually resolves within two weeks (adults) or four weeks (under 19s) with correct management, however can have prolonged symptoms or other more serious complications such as second impact syndrome if return to school/work/sport is attempted too soon.

What should I watch for? (Red flags)

Please come back to the hospital if any of the following red flags occur:

  • Drowsiness or alteration in conscious (deteriorating)
  • Severe and persistent headache that worsen
  • Vomiting more than twice
  • Dizziness
  • Double or blurred vision, peculiar movement of the other eyes, one pupil (black part of the eye) much larger than the other or other visual disturbance
  • Neck stiffness (severe neck pain)
  • Convulsions or fits
  • Bleeding or drainage from the nose or ear
  • Confusion or strange behaviour
  • Very slow or rapid pulse
  • Any unusual breathing patterns
  • Slurred speech

Is it okay to go to sleep?

Concussion often makes a person feel drowsy or tired. Once you have been medically assessed, as long as you are not getting worse, as noted above, it is alright for you to sleep. We do, however, want the responsible adult to be at home with you in case any problems arise.

May I take something for pain?

Do not take any medication unless a doctor has told you to do so. Normally, we do not advise anything stronger than paracetamol (e.g. Panadol). Avoid anti-inflammatories (e.g Voltaren, Maxigesie, Cataflam, Brufen etc.)

1.  What should I avoid doing?

  • Avoid actions that may worsen your symptoms, slow down recovery or place you at risk:
  • Do not consume caffeine (including coffee) or any other stimulants
  • Stop taking any supplements that you may be using
  • Do not consume alcohol for at least 48 hours after a concussion and until cleared by a medical doctor
  • Do not drive a motor vehicle or motorcycle or ride a bike until cleared by a medical doctor
  • Do not exercise at all until medically cleared
  • Do not spend long periods behind a computer, paying video games, watching TV or reading

2. Can I go back to school/work?

If symptoms such as headache, dizziness, nausea and tiredness are persistent avoid going to school or work for 48 hours or until cleared by a doctor.

May I eat?

It is fine to eat if you are hungry. Remember, some people do have a sense of nausea and fatigue, and often find that their appetite is decreased immediately after a concussion. Do not force yourself to eat.

How long will I be observed?

You must follow up with a medical doctor after your suspected or confirmed concussion. You must be monitored regularly, and your symptoms observed until they have completely cleared. You must refrain from any physical exertion including strength conditioning until released to do so by the doctor. Return to practice /play and return to school/work decisions are made at the appropriate time by the concussion doctor and these may differ from person to another.

If there are any concerns, please return to ED.  Also make an appointment to see the concussion doctor at the concussion clinic. 

For more information please call 800 1999