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A concussion, also called a mild traumatic brain injury, is a head injury caused by the brain shaken around inside the skull after a direct blow to the head, or a sudden jerking of the head or neck when the body is hit. This can cause injury to the brain’s nerve fibers and interrupts normal brain activities. In most cases, this injury cannot be seen on tests such as a CT scan or MRI. You don't have to pass out (lose consciousness) to have a concussion. Some people will have symptoms of a concussion, such as passing out or forgetting what happened right before the injury, but others won't.
Common causes of a concussion/mild brain injury are falls, sports, physical assaults, and motor vehicle collisions.
Sometimes an injury to your brain can be more serious. Signs of a more serious injury such as bleeding and /or swelling in the brain can be seen in the first 24 to 48 hours.
Call 911 or go to the hospital right away for any of these possible life threatening issues:
Have someone stay with you for the first 24 hours after the concussion.
The symptoms below are common after a mild brain injury. They usually get better on their own within a few weeks:
See a doctor if your symptoms are affecting your everyday activities. Remember that letting yourself get too tired can make your symptoms worse. Listen to your body: if doing a certain activity increases your symptoms, take a break from that activity. Build up the amount of time you do a particular activity and stay under the threshold for symptoms.
If your symptoms get worse at any time or you have new symptoms from the above list, call your doctor or call Health Link at 811.
To see this information online and learn more, visit MyHealth.Alberta.ca/Alberta/Pages/Concussion-Mild-Traumatic-Brain-Injury-Care-Instructions.aspx.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: January 30, 2020
Author: Calgary Brain Injury Program, Alberta Health Services
Care instructions may be adapted by your healthcare provider. If you have questions about a medical condition or this instruction, talk with your doctor or appropriate healthcare provider.