What is a concussion and how can you tell if you've had one?

A concussion occurs when an injury to the head causes the brain to bounce against the skull. Concussions are divided into three groups based on signs and symptoms.

Grade 1 is a mild concussion and occurs when the person does not pass out. He or she may seem dazed. Grade 2 is a more severe form. This occurs when the person does not lose consciousness but has a period of confusion and does not remember the event. Grade 3 is the most severe form. It occurs when the person loses consciousness for a brief period of time and has no memory of the event.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion include severe headache, dizziness, and vomiting. The doctor will look for uneven pupils in the eyes. A sudden weakness in an arm or leg is another red flag. The person may be restless, agitated, or irritable. Often, the patient has memory lapses or seems forgetful.

Symptoms may last for several hours up to several weeks. A CT scan or MRI is needed for a sure diagnosis. Any loss of consciousness or amnesia after the head injury should be seen by a doctor.