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A concussion, also called a mild traumatic brain injury, is a head injury. It happens when your brain gets shaken inside your skull from a hit (blow) to your head or when your head and neck jerk when your body is hit.
Common causes of a concussion are falls, sports, physical assaults (fights), and motor vehicle collisions.
With a concussion, your brain’s nerve fibers get injured, which affects how your brain normally works. In most cases, you cannot see this injury on tests such as a CT scan or MRI.
You don't have to pass out (lose consciousness) to have a concussion. Some people have symptoms of a concussion, but others don't.
Signs of a more serious brain injury will usually show up in the first 24 to 48 hours.
Call 911 or go to the hospital right away if you have any of the following:
Have someone stay with you for the first 24 hours after the concussion, and use the advice below to manage your symptoms, be safe, and start recovering.
Rest and sleep
Alcohol and drugs
Sports and leisure
Rest your brain
You will usually start feeling better in the first few weeks of a concussion. Use the advice below to manage your symptoms and be safe as you recover.
The symptoms below are common after a concussion. 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. Slowly do a little more activity every day if it feels okay for you. Listen to your body—if doing a certain activity makes your symptoms worse, take a break from it.
Work and school
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/health/pages/conditions.aspx?Hwid=custom.ab_concussion_ac_adult.
For 24/7 nurse advice and general health information call Health Link at 811.
Current as of: June 19, 2023
Author: Calgary Brain Injury Program, Alberta Health Services
This material is not a substitute for the advice of a qualified health professional. This material is intended for general information only and is provided on an "as is", "where is" basis. Although reasonable efforts were made to confirm the accuracy of the information, Alberta Health Services does not make any representation or warranty, express, implied or statutory, as to the accuracy, reliability, completeness, applicability or fitness for a particular purpose of such information. Alberta Health Services expressly disclaims all liability for the use of these materials, and for any claims, actions, demands or suits arising from such use.