What is a concussion?

parents and teen

A concussion is an injury that occurs when a person takes a blow to the head or body that causes the brain to move inside the skull.

Symptoms you might experience after a concussion include:

  • Headaches or head pressure 
  • Blurry vision
  • Difficulty with concentration and/or memory
  • Feeling foggy, off, or out of it
  • Dizziness
  • Feeling more emotional 
  • Feeling sick to your stomach (nauseated)
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Changes in sleep 
  • Changes in behavior or personality

What to do if you think someone might have sustained a concussion:

  • If you think your child or someone you know may have suffered a concussion due to a blow to the head or body, you should immediately tell an adult, such as a coach, athletic trainer or parent/guardian.
  • Those with a concussion may have slower reflexes, poor balance and delayed reaction times. Because of this, continuing to participate in activities or playing with a concussion can be dangerous and lead to another brain injury, longer recovery, or additional musculoskeletal injury.
  • Even if you feel fine initially, symptoms may develop hours or days after a brain injury. Therefore, if in doubt, sit it out!
  • Those who sustain a concussion typically recover within a few weeks and are able to progressively return to regular activities within that time. There is no one-size-fits-all treatment. Our approach is focused on individualized assessment and treatment. In order to fully resume sports or other activities, your doctor may ask that you complete a gradual return-to-play and return-to-learn treatment process. Learn more about concussion treatment.
    For youth athletes:
    • If your school coach or athletic trainer believes you have a concussion, California’s Education Code 49475 requires them to immediately remove you from activity. You may return to activity only after a medical professional trained in concussion diagnosis and treatment gives the okay.
    • In addition, you and your parent must read and sign a brain injury information sheet every year before you begin practicing for a sport. 

Recovering from a Concussion

Our doctors will customize a recovery plan based on your specific brain injury and concussion symptoms. Our goal is to swiftly diagnose and treat your concussion in order to minimize the effects of your injury, prevent additional harm, and safely return you to activities as quickly as possible.

If you have a concussion, our specialists at UCLA Steve Tisch BrainSPORT may recommend the following to help your recovery process:

  • Rest for a short time (24-48 hours), then gradually start doing light activities.
  • Avoid high-risk activities. Until a doctor gives the okay, you must stop all sports participation and refrain from any activities that could cause another bump to the head or body. These include biking, skateboarding, participating in school gym class, and others.
  • Limit technology in the first 24-48 hours after your injury, including use of  computers, video games, smartphones and television. After this period, you may resume use of technology as tolerated with symptoms. For some patients, looking at screens exacerbates symptoms, but this will not make your injury worse nor cause further brain damage. 
  • Manage schoolwork. You may find it difficult to concentrate on school work, take tests or read. Your doctor will work with you and your school to customize a plan for completing assignments. Remember that if your symptoms increase when you do schoolwork, you’re not necessarily causing further injury.

Symptom-limited activity: In most cases, after you have rested for 24-48 hours we will recommend gradually increasing cognitive activities that stimulate the brain and exercise to help with recovery.