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Concussion is an injury usually caused by direct force to the head. It is usually a minor injury and a person who experiences a concussion will usually recover on their own within 10 to 14 days for adults and four weeks in children. In some instances, symptoms can last longer. While most concussions are not serious, professional medical assistance should always be sought following a head injury.

Someone who has suffered concussion may experience some or all of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or disorientation
  • Short term memory loss
  • Balance disturbance or motor incoordination
  • Dazed, blank/vacant stare or not their normal selves
  • Behaviour change
  • Headache
  • ‘Pressure in the head’
  • Neck pain
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Blurred vision
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness
  • Emotional sensitivity

    Signs and symptoms by Better Health Channel. 

Causes and treatment

Concussion is a traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical forces directly to the head, face, neck or elsewhere on the body with an impulsive force transmitted to the head. It is most often experienced by people playing impact sport, or as the result of a fall or road trauma. One key unresolved issue is whether concussion is part of a traumatic brain injury spectrum associated with lesser degrees of diffuse structural change than are seen in severe brain injuries, or whether the concussive injury is the result of reversible physiological changes.

The consensus statement on concussion in sport is freely available and includes the 5th Sports Concussion Assessment Tool [PDF].

If a person is suspected of having a concussion, it is important to seek medical advice and maintain close observation. Most people with a concussion don't require any medical treatment other than rest in order to recover. It is important to fully recover before resuming any daily activities, as any further head injury can have a serious effect on recovery. A person who has experienced a concussion may find that headaches and dizziness linger for couple of weeks.

How the Florey is making a difference

Florey researchers are key members of the International Concussion in Sport Group (CISG) which produces the consensus statements on sports concussion. Our scientists are also examining the potential for new drugs to reduce the the injury mechanisms that occur after concussion. We are also working with Vietnam War veterans to untangle the effects of post traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury on the likelihood of future cognitive decline and dementia. 


Key facts

  1. A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. A concussion can also be caused by violent movement or jarring of the head or neck.
  2. People who suffer from concussions generally fully recover quickly. However, in some cases, symptoms can last for days or weeks.
  3. Those who have already had one concussion seem more susceptible to having another.
  4. The most common causes of concussions are sports injuries (football, hockey, rugby, basketball, etc.), car crashes, and falls by the elderly.
  5. For about 9 in 10 people with concussions, symptoms disappear within 7 to 10 days.
  6. At least 25% of concussion sufferers fail to get assessed by medical personnel.
  7. Most cases of traumatic brain injury are concussions.
  8. In the US, athletes suffer from roughly 300,000 concussions every year.
  9. Immediate consequences include headache, nausea, vomiting, blurred vision, fatigue, or unconsciousness.
  10. In certain severe concussions, symptoms can linger for weeks or even months, due to a complication called post-concussion syndrome.
  11. Loss of consciousness is thought to occur in less than 10% of concussions.


1 Center for Disease Control. “Concussion and Mild TBI”. May 29th, 2014 (Accessed Nov 11th, 2014)

2 Center for Disease Control. “Concussion and Mild TBI”. May 29th, 2014 (Accessed Nov 11th, 2014).

3 Kenneth Maiese (January 2008). "Concussion". The Merck Manual Home Health Handbook.

4 Ropper AH, Gorson KC (2007). "Clinical practice. Concussion".New England Journal of Medicine 356 (2): 166–72. doi:10.1056/NEJMcp064645.PMID 17215534

5 News in Health. “A Bang to the Brain: What we know about Concussions.” May 2013 (Accessed Nov 11th, 2014).

6 Iverson GL (2005). "Outcome from mild traumatic brain injury".Current Opinion in Psychiatry 18 (3): 301–17.doi:10.1097/ PMID 16639155.

7 Cassidy JD, Carroll LJ, Peloso PM, Borg J, von Holst H, Holm L, et al. (2004). "Incidence, risk factors and prevention of mild traumatic brain injury: Results of the WHO Collaborating Centre Task Force on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury". Journal of Rehabilitation Medicine 36 (Supplement 43): 28–60.doi:10.1080/16501960410023732. PMID 15083870.

8 University of Pittsburgh Neurosurgery. “Concussions”. Accessed Nov 11th, 2014.

9 McCrory, P; Meeuwisse, W; Johnston, K; Dvorak, J; Aubry, M; Molloy, M; Cantu, R (Jul–Aug 2009). "Consensus statement on concussion in sport: the 3rd International Conference on Concussion in Sport held in Zurich, November 2008." Journal of athletic training 44 (4): 434–48. doi:10.4085/1062-6050-44.4.434. PMC 2707064. PMID 19593427.

10 Ryan LM, Warden DL (2003). "Post concussion syndrome". International Review of Psychiatry 15 (4): 310–316. doi:10.1080/09540260310001606692.PMID 15276952.

11 Cantu RC (1998). "Second-impact syndrome". Clinics in Sports Medicine 17 (1): 37–44. doi:10.1016/S0278-5919(05)70059-4. PMID 9475969.


Clinical trials

The Florey is conducting numerous studies on concussion and mild traumatic brain injury in humans.

  • We are studying the effect of head injuries sustained during active service in Vietnam veterens, using a battery of neuropsychological tests as well as structural brain imaging and brain scanning for the proteins thought to be involved in Alzheimer' s disease
  • We are scanning Australian rules footballers from the men's and women's Australian Football Leagues who have sustained an acute concussion
  • We will soon commence brain scanning of retired male Australian Football League players who have ongoing subjective memory and mood complaints

Support and information

Further information can be found at the Better Health Channel, Health direct and the Australian Sports Commission. If a serious injury has occurred, contact 000.

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