Concussion Symptom List

It is not always easy to know if someone has a concussion. You don’t have to pass out (lose consciousness) to have a concussion. Symptoms of a concussion range from mild to severe and can last for hours, days, weeks, months, or even years. 

Generally, if you feel that “something is not quite right,” or if you are feeling “foggy”, you should talk with a concussion specialist. Concussion symptoms are often grouped into four categories, including:



  • Headache
  • Appetite decrease
  • Appetite increase
  • Balance problems
  • Blurred vision
  • Bump into things
  • Change in smell
  • Change in taste
  • Clumsiness
  • Dizziness: lack of equilibrium
  • Double vision
  • Fatigue
  • Feeling slowed down or heavy
  • Headache
  • Migraine
  • Nausea
  • Numbness & tingling
  • Pressure in head
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Sensitivity to smell
  • Slurred speech
  • Vertigo
  • Vomiting



Cognitive (thinking)

  • Answer questions slowly
  • Behavior or personality changes
  • Brain fog
  • Confusion about recent events
  • Difficulty communicating with others
  • Difficulty in concentrating
  • Difficulty with new information or conversations
  • Diminished short term memory
  • Feel dazed or stunned
  • Feel like you’ve “lost time”
  • Feel “out of it”
  • Feel “spacey”
  • Forgetfulness
  • Lack of focus
  • Lose track in conversations with others
  • Mental fatigue
  • Not thinking clearly
  • Repeats questions
  • Word finding challenges






  • Anger/Rage
  • Anxiety
  • Decreased motivation
  • Depression
  • Difficulty in handling stress
  • Difficulty with intimacy
  • Difficulty with relationships
  • Easily frustrated
  • Irritability
  • More emotional
  • Nervousness
  • Sadness




  • Change in dreaming or nightmares
  • Difficulty falling to sleep
  • Difficulty staying asleep
  • Drowsiness
  • Need for excessive sleep



Some of these symptoms may appear right away, while others may not be noticed for days or months after the injury, or until the person starts resuming their everyday life and more demands are placed upon them. Sometimes people do not recognize or admit that they are having problems. Others may not understand why they are having problems and what their problems really are, which can make them nervous and upset. The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be difficult to sort out. Early on, problems may be missed by the person with the concussion, family members, or doctors. People may look fine even though they are acting or feeling differently.



Concussion 101: What every parent, coach, and athlete should know

What is a concussion?

A concussion occurs when there is a direct blow or force to the head that causes a change in mental status.  During a concussion, the brain is demanding more energy than it is receiving.  Therefore, it can lead to symptoms such as disorientation, confusion, memory loss. And/or slowness in thinking.

Who does it Affect?

Concussions occur often in sports.  Contact sports such as soccer, football, wrestling, hockey, and basketball have the highest prevalence of concussions.

Signs and Symptoms of Concussions

Athlete May Report

  • Headache or pressure in head
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Blurred/double vision
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering/loss of memory
  • Spots before eyes
  • Sensitivity to sound
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Feeling “in a fog”

Coach or Parent May Observe

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Sleepiness, grogginess
  • Balance problems
  • Slowness in responding
  • Slurred speech
  • Abnormal behavior
  • “Out of it” behavior


Diagnosis of a concussion is determined through clinical examination.  By definition, all imaging tests, such as CT scan and MRI, appear normal.

Treatments/Management of Injury
The primary treatment requires rest.  It is not necessary to cease.


The prognosis for a concussion that is properly managed is good.  However, if the concussion is not managed appropriately, the athlete may have symptoms that persist.  Fortunately, Athletico Physical Therapy’s Vestibular physical therapists may be able to provide treatments for athletes with persistent concussive symptoms.

Return to Play

When returning to play following a concussion, the following protocol, or a similar protocol,  will be used to safely progress their return to play.  This should be performed under the direction of a qualified medical provider.  It is recommended that there be approximately 24 hours between each stage.

Rehabilitation StageFunctional ExerciseSuccess Goal

No ActivityComplete physical and mental rest.Recovery and symptom free rest.

Low ExertionStationary cycling keeping intensity.Increase heart rate without being under 70% maximum predicted heart rate symptoms (30 minute max).

Increased ExertionRunning while keeping intensity. Can add movement without symptoms.Increase heart rate without being under 70% maximum predicted heart rate symptoms. (30 minute max)

High ExertionSport-specific exercises. No head-impact activities.Add coordination and cognition without symptoms.

Non-Contact PracticeFull practice without contact may start along with progressive resistance training.Increase exercise, cognitive load and coordination without symptoms.

Return to PlayNormal game play.

Protocol established from: “Consensus statement on concussion in sport – The 3rd International Conference on concussion in sport, held in Zurich, November 2008.” Journal of Clinical Neuroscience. (2009) 16:755–763

Return to Participation: An athlete will not return to participation the same day as a concussive event. An athlete is able to return to play when they are symptom-free at rest and at exertion and have returned to a baseline state of any of the tests they were administered. When returning athletes to play, they will follow the stepwise symptom-limited program outlined above.


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REMEMBER:  There is no such thing as a minor head injury.  Symptoms may become worse with exertion or possible rest.  Athlete should not return to play until cleared by medical personnel.  Consult an athletic trainer or concussion expert immediately if any signs or symptoms are reported or observed.