Concussion Risk Awareness information
Learn about head injuries, symptoms of concussions, and when to consult a medical professional
Colorado Mountain College is committed to providing a safe environment and protecting the health of students, employees, and visitors. This awareness program is intended to provide information about the risks of head injuries, symptoms of concussions, and when to consult a medical professional.
CMC does not have physicians or other practicing medical professionals on staff. When necessary or appropriate, participants shall consult their primary care physician or local emergency medical facilities for evaluation and treatment.
This protocol and related information is intended as a resource for faculty, staff, students, parents, and other participants in activities where a concussion risk may be present. Additional concussion resources include:
The following concussion information is adapted from the CDC Heads Up Concussion Awareness Program.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head, or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
Concussions Are Serious
Medical providers may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, the effects of a concussion can be serious.
Concussion Signs and Symptoms
Individuals who show or report one or more of the signs and symptoms listed below, or simply say they just “don’t feel right” after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body, may have a concussion or more serious brain injury. An individual with a suspected concussion should be evaluated by a medical professional and remain out of the activity until cleared by a doctor.
Concussion Signs Observed
- Can’t recall events prior to or after a hit or fall.
- Appears dazed or stunned.
- Forgets an instruction, is confused about an assignment or position, or is unsure of the game, score, or opponent.
- Moves clumsily.
- Answers questions slowly.
- Loses consciousness (even briefly).
- Shows mood, behavior, or personality changes.
Concussion Symptoms Reported
- Headache or “pressure” in head.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Balance problems or dizziness, or double or blurry vision.
- Bothered by light or noise.
- Feeling sluggish, hazy, foggy, or groggy.
- Confusion, or concentration or memory problems.
- Just not “feeling right,” or “feeling down”.
Signs and symptoms generally show up soon after the injury. However, one may not know how serious the injury is at first and some symptoms may not show up for hours or days. For example, in the first few minutes the individual might be a little confused or a bit dazed, but an hour later they might not be able to remember how he or she got hurt.
The individual should continue to be monitored for signs of concussion right after the injury and a few days after the injury. If the concussion signs or symptoms get worse, the person be taken to the nearest emergency medical facility right away.
Responding to a Concussion
An individual with a concussion needs to be seen by a medical provider. If the concussion happens while playing sports:
- The individual should be removed from play.
- The person should remain out of play the day of the injury and until a medical provider, experienced in evaluating for concussion, says he or she is symptom-free and it’s OK to return to play.
Individuals who return to play too soon—while the brain is still healing—risk a greater chance of having a repeat concussion. Repeat or later concussions can be very serious. They can cause permanent brain damage, affecting the individual for a lifetime.
Seek Medical Care
Patients experiencing concussion danger signs should seek care right away at an emergency department. When the injury is more serious, the individual may need to stay in the hospital overnight.
WHAT TO TELL THE MEDICAL PROVIDER
Be sure to tell the medical provider if you are taking medications—prescription, over-the-counter medicines, or “natural remedies.” When possible, also write down and share the following information:
- Cause of the injury and force of the hit or blow to the head or body.
- Any loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out) and if so, for how long.
- Any memory loss right after the injury.
- Any seizures right after the injury.
- Number of previous concussions (if any).
TESTS FOR CONCUSSION & BRAIN INJURY
The provider may do a scan of his or her brain (such as a CT scan) to look for signs of a more serious brain injury. Other tests such as “neuropsychological” or “neurocognitive” tests may also be performed. These tests help assess learning and memory skills, the ability to pay attention or concentrate, and how quickly he or she can think and solve problems. These tests can help the provider identify the effects of the concussion.
GET WRITTEN CONCUSSION CARE INSTRUCTIONS
Ask for written instructions from the athlete’s health care provider on return to play. These instructions should include information about when they can return to play and what steps you should take to help them safely return to play. Before returning to play an athlete should:
- Be back to doing their regular school activities.
- Not have any symptoms from the injury when doing normal activities.
- Have the green-light from their health care provider to begin the return to play process.
Concussion Danger Signs
In rare cases, a dangerous collection of blood (hematoma) may form on the brain after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body that may squeeze the brain against the skull. Call 9-1-1 right away, or take the individual to the nearest emergency medical facility if he or she has one or more of the following danger signs after a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or body:
Dangerous Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion
- One pupil larger than the other.
- Drowsiness or inability to wake up.
- A headache that gets worse and does not go away.
- Slurred speech, weakness, numbness, or decreased coordination.
- Repeated vomiting or nausea, convulsions or seizures (shaking or twitching).
- Unusual behavior, increased confusion, restlessness, or agitation.
- Loss of consciousness (passed out/knocked out). Even a brief loss of consciousness should be taken seriously.
Dangerous Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion for Toddlers and Infants
- Any of the signs and symptoms listed in the Danger Signs & Symptoms of a Concussion list.
- Will not stop crying and cannot be consoled.
- Will not nurse or eat.
Severe Brain Injury
A person with a severe brain injury will need to be hospitalized and may have long-term problems affecting things such as:
- Coordination and balance
- Speech, hearing or vision
A severe brain injury can affect all aspects of people’s lives, including relationships with family and friends, as well as their ability to work or be employed, do household chores, drive, and/or do other normal daily activities.
Recovery from Concussion
Most individuals with a concussion feel better within a couple of weeks. However for some, symptoms will last for a month or longer. Concussion symptoms may appear during the normal healing process or as the person gets back to their regular activities. If there are any symptoms that concern you or are getting worse, be sure to seek medical care as soon as possible. After a concussion, an individual should only return to school, sports, and other activities with the approval and under the supervision of their health care provider.