Concussion Care: Signs & Symptoms to Watch
October 27, 2020
Henry Ford Health System
When you experience a blow to the head, knowing whether you've suffered a concussion isn't always clear cut.
Head injuries have a range of physical, psychological and intellectual effects — and only a small number of people lose consciousness.
"It's critical for parents, coaches, players and trainers to recognize the potential signs and symptoms of a concussion," says Jeffrey Kutcher, M.D., a sports neurologist who treats athletes at the Henry Ford Kutcher Clinic for Concussion and Sports Neurology. "The basic rule is that a concussion can affect any aspect of brain function."
Signs of Concussion
The Latin root of the word "concussion" means "to shake violently" — which makes sense. Concussions happen when there's a combination of movement and impact. So, any injury that involves a hit to the head — a fall, collision or hard hit by a heavy object — could cause one. So could a hit to the body that causes the head to move quickly.
"But every brain injury is different," Dr. Kutcher says. "Some symptoms show up right away while others develop gradually over days."
Here are common concussion symptoms to watch for — both immediately following a head injury and in the hours and days after:
Physical Concussion Symptoms
- Changes in sleep patterns
- Difficulty with balance
- Dizziness or lightheadedness
- Light sensitivity
- Numbness or tingling
- Sensitivity to sound
- Visual problems
Emotional Concussion Symptoms
- Mood swings
Cognitive Concussion Symptoms
- Difficulty concentrating
- Feeling "slow" or "foggy"
- Memory problems
Diagnosing Concussion: Getting It Right
One reason concussions are frequently misdiagnosed is because they're assessed on the field or courtside during game play or practice. Coaches, trainers and parents often make lightning fast decisions about whether symptoms, such as headache, nausea and light sensitivity, are signs of concussion.
"Unfortunately, it’s more complicated than completing a concussion checklist. Everyone — and every concussion — is different. So, observers shouldn’t be diagnosing a head injury on the spot, but rather making a triage decision for safety. They should leave the diagnosis to the medical professionals," Dr. Kutcher says. In fact, those in-the-moment assessments are wrong about half of the time.
People should focus instead on getting immediate, emergency care for anyone who displays the following signs and symptoms right after a hit:
- Difficulty walking
- Weakness on one or both sides
- Not waking up
- Repeated vomiting
- Persistent confusion
No matter how hard (or lightly) you think you've been hit, it's important to take head injury symptoms seriously. Even a seemingly minor blow could have a major impact. A complete evaluation by a medical professional will not only determine whether you have a concussion, it can also identify more serious, or even life-threatening, concerns.
"In every case, medical professionals are better equipped to assess the extent of the damage if you have a comprehensive baseline evaluation on file," Dr. Kutcher says. This thorough evaluation with a sports neurologist, including a complete family and neurological history, can act as a critical point of reference when trainers and medical professionals are trying to diagnose or manage a concussion.
Dr. Jeffrey Kutcher is a sports neurologist and the medical director of the Henry Ford Kutcher Clinic for Concussion and Sports Neurology.
Want to learn more? Henry Ford Health System sports medicine experts are treating the whole athlete, in a whole new way. From nutrition to neurology, and from injury prevention to treatment of sports-related conditions, they can give your athlete a unique game plan.
Visit henryford.com/sports or call (313) 972-4216 for an appointment within 24 business hours.
This Week in High School Sports: 3/21/23
By Jon Ross
MHSAA Director of Broadcast Properties
March 21, 2023
This final edition for the 2022-23 school year reviews all four MHSAA Girls Basketball Finals and highlights some of the top performances from Boys Basketball Regional play.
The 5-minute program each week includes feature stories from MHSAA.com or network affiliates, along with "Be the Referee," a 60-second look at the fine art of officiating.
"This Week in High School Sports" is powered by MI Student Aid, a part of the Office of Postsecondary Financial Planning located within the Michigan Department of Treasury.
Listen to this week's show by Clicking Here.
March 15: Ice Hockey Finals review, Lower Peninsula Boys Swimming & Diving Finals highlights - Listen
March 8: Individual Wrestling Finals review, Competitive Cheer Finals highlights - Listen
March 1: Midland heroes, Team Wrestling Finals review - Listen
Feb. 22: Basketball Districts begin, Finals cap Upper Peninsula swimming & diving season - Listen
Feb. 15: Hockey tournament changes, MHSAA social media - Listen
Feb. 8: Winter Postseason Starts, Scholar-Athlete Award - Listen
Feb. 1: Kent City coach Jill Evers, "Officials Appreciation Week" - Listen
Jan. 25: Historic hoops wins, Michigan's national ranking in sports participation - Listen
Jan. 18: Brad Bush joins MHSAA, Al DeMott sets coaching record - Listen
Jan. 4: Winter Championships, Officials Recruitment - Listen
Nov. 23: 8-Player Football Finals, Lower Peninsula Girls Swimming & Diving Finals, Volleyball Finals - Listen
Nov. 18: Concussion Myths, Navea Gauthier's record-setting Shelby volleyball season - Listen
Nov. 11: Lower Peninsula Cross Country, Boys Soccer Finals review - Listen
Nov. 2: Football Playoffs Week 1 notables, Fall 2022 championships and broadcasts - Listen
Oct. 26: Football Playoffs pairings selection, Upper Peninsula Cross Country Finals - Listen
Oct. 19: Sunday Selection Show, Lower Peninsula Girls Golf & Boys Tennis Finals - Listen
Oct. 12: 25th Women In Sports Leadership Conference highlights - Listen
Oct. 5: Upper Peninsula Girls Tennis Finals champions, Rockford's Anna Tracey - Listen
Sept. 28: MHSAA Sportsmanship Summits return, Owosso's Macy Irelan - Listen
Sept. 21: MHSAA/Farm Bureau Insurance Scholar-Athlete Awards, Marquette's Maddy Stern - Listen
Sept. 14: MHSAA record books, Detroit Renaissance's Kaila Jackson - Listen
Sept. 7: Sports Participation rebounding, Paw Paw's Paige Miller - Listen
Aug. 31: Michigan Power Ratings and soccer seeding, Fenton's Gracie Olsen - Listen
Aug. 24: Redesigned MHSAA.com, key dates and how to watch football in 2022 - Listen