A concussion is a brain injury that affects how the brain functions. Changes in brain function are usually temporary and most concussions do not result in loss of consciousness. The injury causing a concussion may include a direct blow to the head, face, neck, or other place on the body that is transmitted to the brain. Anyone who suspects they have a concussion should immediately stop participating in the activity that caused the injury and be evaluated by a medical professional within 48 hours of the injury. Please call 1-833-UT-CARES (1-833-882-2737) to make an appointment with a healthcare provider.
Symptoms of Concussions
A concussion can have a wide variety of symptoms that affect you emotionally, physically, or mentally. Concussions can also disrupt your sleeping habits. The signs and symptoms of a concussion shouldn’t be explained away by any other injury or illness, medication, drug, alcohol, or psychiatric causes.
- Excessive crying
- Feeling more emotional than normal
- Balance problems
- Nausea or vomiting
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Stunned appearance
- Visual problems
- Being forgetful of recent information and conversations
- Confusion about recent events
- Experiencing slowed mental processing
- Feeling mentally “foggy” or slowed down
- Difficulty concentrating
- Responding slowly to questions
- Difficulty falling asleep
- Frequent awakening
- Sleeping more or less than usual
Risk Factors for Concussions
Female athletes have a higher injury rate of concussions compared to male athletes participating in similar sports with similar playing rules. Youth athletes also tend to be more susceptible to concussion injuries.
Common risk factors for concussions:
- A previous history of concussions or repetitive blows to the head
- Disorders in mood (e.g., anxiety/depression), learning, attention, migraines, or sleep
- Participation in high-risk or other contact sports
Treating Concussions at UT Health Austin
Our goal is to provide you with an individualized symptom-management and return-to-play treatment plan that allows you to resume participation in your desired recreational activity, sport, or other physical interaction. Depending on the severity of your concussion, your treatment may include diagnostic testing and patient education involving prevention and recognition of potential complications of concussions.
Common concussion complications:
- Post-concussion syndrome (PCS) – PCS is a complex disorder in which concussion symptoms last for weeks and sometimes months following the initial injury. PCS occurs in 15% of concussion patients and vigilant symptom monitoring and comprehensive neurological testing is required to accurately diagnose PCS. Through a multidisciplinary and individualized treatment approach, the majority of PCS cases are expected to resolve over time.
- Second impact syndrome (SIS) – SIS involves rapid brain swelling that results from a second traumatic brain injury that occurs before the symptoms of the first brain injury have resolved. Patients may be at risk of SIS in the minutes, hours, days, or weeks following an initial concussion.
Care Team Approach
At UT Health Austin, we take a multidisciplinary approach to your care. This means you will benefit from the expertise of multiple specialists across a variety of disciplines. Your care team may include sports medicine physicians, physiatrists, physical therapists, chiropractors, nurse practitioners, dietitians, social workers, and more, who work together with our internal diagnostic team to help you get back to the things in your life that matter most to you. We also collaborate with our colleagues at the Dell Medical School and The University of Texas at Austin to utilize the latest research, diagnostic, and treatment techniques, allowing us to tailor your care to your needs to help you get healthy and stay in the game. We are also committed to communicating and coordinating your care with your other healthcare providers to ensure that we are providing you with comprehensive, whole-person care.