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To find patient care programs and faculty treating mild brain injuries or concussions at Kennedy Krieger Institute, as well as research investigating this disorder, please see the right-hand column below. Additional helpful information, including definitions, symptoms, Institute press releases, Potential magazine articles, and other resources outside the Institute, have also been provided for readers on this page.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull.
Your brain is a soft organ that is surrounded by spinal fluid and protected by the hard skull. If your head or your body is hit hard, your brain can crash into your skull and be injured. The brain can also be injured if the soft brain gets stretched or shaken due to forces to the head or body.
A concussion often results in physical, emotional, cognitive, and/or sleep symptoms. Examples of physical symptoms are headache and dizziness. Individuals with concussion may be more irritable and may have difficulty with memory and attention. Individuals with a concussion may notice that they are sleeping more than usual or that they are having difficulty with sleep.
With appropriate rest, most people fully recover from a concussion. Some people recover within a few hours. Other people take a few weeks or few months to recover.
In rare cases concussions cause more serious problems. Repeated concussions or a severe concussion may require surgery or lead to long-lasting problems with movement, learning, or speaking. Because of the small chance of permanent brain problems, it is important to seek medical attention if there has been a blow to the head.
It is especially dangerous to have a second concussion before the brain has recovered from a first concussion. For this reason, all individuals with a possible concussion should be cleared by a medical professional before returning to sports or other activities with risk of injury to the head.