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What is a concussion?

A concussion is an injury to the brain, the organ that controls virtually everything we care about. Memories of people we love, athletic ability, passion for music and more. Yet we often treat concussions with less attention than a scraped knee.

Dad sitting on a couch playing with children

Anyone, anywhere, any time

Many think that concussions only happen to athletes. Not so. Falls during everyday activities, such as walking to the car or tripping on a toy at home, account for nearly half of all concussions in the U.S.

What causes a concussion?

More than what most people assume. Concussion-inducing impact takes many forms. Here’s a few:

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Whether it’s slipping on a wet surface or tumbling down the stairs, falls are the number one cause of concussions.

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From around the house to on the sports field, falling objects to physical assault or intimate partner violence, a sudden impact to the head can lead to serious long-term consequences.

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Car crashes, workplace injuries, abusive head trauma (shaken baby syndrome). Sudden brain movement can cause neuron damage.

Know the symptoms

If you believe you have sustained a concussion, it’s important to get checked out by a doctor. Your brain is the center of everything you do. You won’t know whether it’s just a surface head injury or something more serious on the inside until you see a healthcare professional.

Frequently Asked Questions

What is a concussion?
An injury to your brain. It’s caused by a hit, blow or jolt to the head or body that causes the brain to suddenly move inside the skull, causing damage to the brain. And that damage can change the way a person acts, thinks, or feels.
Can I suffer a concussion without being knocked out?
Yes. Most people don’t lose consciousness when suffering a concussion. The best way to determine whether someone has a concussion is to look for common signs and symptoms for at least seven days after an injury.
What should I do if I think I have a concussion?
Assess the symptoms and seek help. Learn the symptoms here.
What if I’m not sure?
If you or someone you know is experiencing any of the symptoms of a concussion, get it checked by a healthcare professional.

The bottom line: If you’re unsure whether you have sustained a concussion, contact your doctor.
What if the other person says they’re fine?
Too often we tell people to “tough it out” or “walk it off.” But sometimes “I’m fine” isn’t fine. When your brain is injured, you can't always think straight and assess yourself. If you think someone has sustained a concussion, encourage them to seek medical care. The consequences of inaction could jeopardize their long-term health.
Where can I find additional information about concussions?
There is a lot of concussion information out there, and you've taken a great first step by coming here. For more information, you can visit: CDC Heads Up

Information is intended for educational purposes and does not constitute medical advice. If you sustain a head injury, including concussion, seek help from a medical professional.