A concussion is mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) caused by a direct blow to the head (or elsewhere in the body that generates abrupt movement of the brain inside the skull). Although concussions only infrequently result in loss of consciousness, it is not uncommon for individuals to experience a range of symptoms post-injury, including headache, dizziness, balance problems, nausea, fatigue, confusion, memory difficulties, mental “fogginess,” low attention span, sleep disturbance, increased anxiety, and/or depressed mood. Fortunately, rapid improvement of these symptoms should be expected within the first 3 days, and the vast majority of individuals (~85%) report complete resolution of symptoms within the first week following injury.
Still, there are rare occasions when symptoms can persist for weeks or longer after the initial injury. In these instances, formal neuropsychological testing should be obtained to characterize any objective cognitive deficits, screen for other contributing factors, and make personalized recommendations for ongoing management that support a patient’s recovery and resumption of normal daily activities (e.g., work, school, physical activities).