[give_form id="1392"]

What is a Concussion?

Symptoms, Misconceptions, Prevention, and Impacts. 

It is imperative to understand what concussions are, as well as their symptoms and impacts, as they are among the most common forms of traumatic brain injury (TBI). This blog post aims to address the many questions that arise from the topic of concussions, and clarifies related misconceptions.

What is a Concussion? A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by trauma to the head and brain. This trauma may be direct, such as the impact of a serious car accident, or indirect, such as whiplash injuries from a serious car accident. The trauma creates a sudden and forceful motion inside the head, causing the brain to bounce and twist inside the skull. The forceful motion leads to the damage of brain cells, stretches and bruises blood vessels, and alters the balance of chemicals in the brain. It is important to note that concussions are not structural injuries, they are functional injuries, meaning that they impair brain function. Severe concussions may have permanent cognitive side effects, while less severe concussions may result in a temporary loss of normal brain function.

Signs and Symptoms 

The signs and symptoms of a concussion may show up soon after the injury, or several hours later. They are important to closely monitor, as worsening of these signs and symptoms is an indication of a severe concussion. Signs of a concussion include clumsy movement, a dazed and confused trance, or being unable to recall or follow instructions. Symptoms can also include feelings of pressure in the head, nausea and vomiting, balance problems or dizziness.

Concussions have always been dismissed as a mild injury, however, this is wrong. Concussions are actually classified as a mild brain injury and falls under the umbrella term of “Acquired Brain Injury”. It is important to carefully monitor a concussed person in the first 24-48 hours of their concussion and to seek immediate help if their symptoms worsen, as concussions can lead to fatal bleeding within the brain. It is also important to seek treatment for concussions to avoid negative long-term implications.

What are the Short Term and Long Term Impacts of a Concussion?  The short term effects of concussions appear soon after the concussion occurs and are usually temporary. Some of these effects occur immediately while others take a few hours to occur. Physical effects include headaches, dizziness, lightheadedness, sensitivity to light and noise, short-term memory loss and anosmia (smell and taste dysfunction). Personality effects include irritability, aggression, and anxiety. If any of these effects become severe or prolong, it is important to seek medical help immediately.

The long term effects of concussions are not as common, but they are more serious than short term effects. When left untreated, it may increase your risk of Alzheimer’s Disease, Parkinson’s Disease, memory loss, and trouble reasoning and communicating.

How May a Concussion be Prevented? There are steps that can be taken to reduce the risk of brain injury. This includes wearing appropriately fitting headgear and safety equipment when playing contact sports, and replacing this equipment when it is damaged or does not fit anymore. When driving or sitting in a car, wearing a seatbelt is crucial for protecting against the risk of brain injury, in the event of a car accident. Additionally, exercising/playing sports with proper form and technique is also important in ensuring safety.

Concussions and their associated long and short term effects are not uncommon, and can happen to anyone. It is important to always keep safety in mind, and not to underestimate the severity of a head injury. Contact medical help immediately, as it is best to start the recovery process as soon as possible. To find out more, please visit our Resources section at www.biaph.com/faq/ or contact us at info@biaph.com.


Brody, D. L. (2019). What is a concussion? Concussion Care Manual, 5–8. https:// doi.org/10.1093/med/9780190054793.003.0002

Broshek, D. K., De Marco, A. P., & Freeman, J. R. (2014). A review of post-concussion syndrome and psychological factors associated with concussion. Brain Injury, 29(2), 228–237. https://doi.org/10.3109/02699052.2014.974674

McCrea, M., & Powell, M. R. (2011). Biomechanics and pathophysiology of concussion. Pediatric and Adolescent Concussion, 29–53. https://doi.org/ 10.1007/978-0-387-89545-1_4

About the Author

Aamna volunteers as BIAPH’s Mind Matters Research Assistant and is also an aspiring biomedical engineer, who hopes to specialize in materials engineering. She is passionate about nutrition and wellness and enjoys helping out in her community wherever possible. Aamna was inspired to join BIAPH after learning about the knowledge translation initiative, which focuses on spreading awareness of acquired brain injury.