Concussion Symptoms


A form of mild traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanics forces. An impact to the head, neck or body results in the rotational acceleration of the brain within the skull.

  • headache/migraine
  • dizziness/balance problems
  • nausea
  • fatigue
  • foggy feeling
  • slower information processing
  • trouble thinking clearly or finding words
  • difficulty making decisions/plans
  • behavioural changes
  • sleep disturbances
  • sensitivity to light or noise
  • vision changes
  • ringing in ear
    and more…

If you develop the following symptoms, seek care from a health professional:

  •  neck pain/tenderness
  • double vision
  • weakness/tingling/burning in arms or legs
  • seizure or convulsion
  • loss of consciousness
  • deteriorating conscious state
  •  vomiting
  • increasingly agitated or combative

“A concussion is considered a form of mild traumatic brain injury induced by biomechanical forces. An impact to the head, neck or body results in the rotational acceleration of the brain within the skull.” -CATT

Symptom management is tailored to each individual but research shows that cognitive and physical rest within the first 24-48 hours is recommended. Prolonged rest has NOT been found to improve concussion recovery and may even delay recovery. Returning too soon to physical or cognitive activities may also increase post concussion symptom severity and prolong the recovery period.


Physical rest: no exercise, weight training/heavy lifting, sports or any activities requiring exertion.

Cognitive rest: limiting activities requiring focus, concentration, memorization or multitasking like: school work, texting, video games, work, computer use, and driving.

Tailored to individual patient preference but may consider the following: (not including prescribed drugs from your doctor)

  • Find dark, quiet spaces
  • Drink fluids/stay hydrated
  • Healthy lifestyle/nutrition

Common symptoms often resolve with physical and cognitive rest.

  • Go to bed and wake up at consistent times
  • Create regular bed time routines
  • Sleep in a dark, quiet, cool room
  • Use your bedroom for sleep only

Consult an expert in the field of the symptoms you’re experiencing to perform a focused history identifying the cause of persistent symptoms

There is not one answer for cause, but its characteristics may include imbalance, unsteadiness, disorientation, neck pain, limited cervical range of motion (ROM), and may be accompanied by a headache

There is no one specific test to diagnose CGD other than highly skilled practitioners and exclusion of similar diagnoses.

characterized by the symptoms of a spinning sensation due to changes in the position of the head.

This leading cause of vertigo is thought to arise from the displacement in the inner ear into semicircular canals.

Adolescents can expect recovery anywhere from 2-4 weeks whereas adults typically recover within 2 weeks. Although, 15%-30% of patients develop persistent concussion symptoms which then a return to work/play program would be developed.

You have returned back to the state you were in before your injury and are asymptomatic during full time work or school activities. You’re able to participate in non-contact sports and physical activity. You have received a normal neurological exam and have passed a graded exercise/treadmill test and have received medical written clearance.

Returning to sport/work is different for everyone and therefore the recommendations/guidelines are to be altered to each unique case.

You may follow this guideline from Brain Injury Canada:

Assuming the 24-48 hours post concussion of rest is followed:

Stage 1: 
Aim: daily activities at home that do not give the student-athlete symptoms
Activity: typical activities during the day as long as they dont increase symptoms. start at 5-15 min at a time and gradually build up.
Goal: gradual return to typical activities

Stage 2:
Aim: school activities
Activity: homework, reading, other cognitive activities outside classroom
Goal: increase tolerance to cognitive work

Stage 3:
Aim: return to school part-time
Activity: gradual introduction of schoolwork. Potential start with half school day or with increased breaks during the day.
Goal: increase academic activities

Stage 4:
Aim: return to school full-time
Activity: gradually progress
Goal: return to full academic activities and catch up on missed school work

A medical doctor, team athletic therapist, or a physiotherapist can provide you with a medical assessment letter to go back to play.

Stage 1:

Aim: symptom limiting activity
Activity: daily activities that do not provoke symptoms
Goal: gradual re-introduction of work/school activities

Stage 2:

Aim: light aerobic activity
Activity: walking or stationary cycling at slow to medium pace. no resistance training
Goal: increase heart rate

Stage 3:
Aim: sport-specific exercise
Activity: running or skating drills. no head impact activity
Goal: add movement

Stage 4:

Aim: non-contact training drills
Activity: harder training drills, ie: passing drills. may start progressive resistance training
Goal: exercise, coordination, increased thinking

Stage 5:

Aim: return to sport
Activity: normal game play

Depending on severity and type of concussion, symptoms vary from person to person. Specific symptoms can be traced to specific areas of the brain that have been damaged/affected. 

Largest front part of the brain which divides into two hemispheres.

Left Hemisphere controls:

  • speaking
  • listening
  • reading
  • writing

Right Hemisphere:

  • following directions
  • solving puzzles
  • drawing
  • recognizing objects/people


  • memory
  • concentration
  • judgement and inhibition
  • movement
  • smell
  • taste
  • self-awareness
  • personality traits
  • organization
  • word formation

    Damage to either side of the frontal lobe may cause issues with emotional control, social skills, judgement, planning, and organization.

Damage to the L: may cause issues with speech & moving the right arm or leg

Damage to the R: may cause issues moving the left arm or leg


  • touch, auditory, & visual information processing

L side:

  • recognizes speech & words
  • visual/spatial recognition, body orientation, shapes

    If damaged may cause issues with:
    • reading & math
    • loss of sensation of right side of body affecting: touch, pain, vision, & temperature changes.
    • spatial tasks (making sense out of pictures, diagrams, reading maps)
    • potential left body sensation change


  • smell and sound
  • memory 
  • perception
  • categorization of objects

L Side if damaged may cause issue with:

  • language comprehension (read/listen)

R Side if damaged may cause issue with:

  • comprehending non-verbal sound/music/pictures/body language cues



  • processing visual information (patterns, colours)
  • identify objects/signals


If damaged:

  • if L side: issues seeing things on the right side of space.
  • if R side: issues seeing things on the left side of space

Integrates sensory perception and motor output like:

  • balance
  • coordination
  • posture
  • speech

Coordinating voluntary movements results in a smooth execution process in activities like walking, speaking, and also smaller movements like lifting and reaching.

Damage to this area may cause problems with these areas of function.

The brain stem controls basic life functioning and connects the brain to the spinal cord.

  • breathing
  • blood pressure
  • heart rate
  • sweating
  • digesting
  • arousal
  • alertness


3 main parts of the brainstem:

  • midbrain
  • pons
  • medulla oblongata

Myths About Concussions

Mental Health

No, a concussion occurs when the brain moves within the skull, disrupting the equilibrium. This can simply look like being slow to get up, disorientation or confusion, or clutching of the head.

No, helmets prevent the head from direct external trauma like lesions and can provide cushion if the head were to hit a surface.

The most recent scientific based recommendations suggest only 24-48 hours of rest immediately after the incident. Gradual return to daily living activity may be followed once guided by a doctor.

The most common reason for getting a concussion actually isn’t direct contact of the head. It is the acceleration and deceleration forces which cause the shaking of the brain within the skull. This can occur when you have an impact to the body, neck, or head directing impulse  force to the skull (like whiplash).

Mental Health (mental well-being): refers to your emotions, thoughts, and feelings. Multiple things can contribute to mental health problems like:

  • significant life change
  • relationships
  • isolation
  • physical health
  • age
  • gender
  • stress
  • trauma
  • employment 

Mental Illness: refers to a diagnosed disorder that impairs how you think, feel, behave, or interact with others. Can only be diagnosed  by a doctor/psychiatrist. examples:

  • addition disorders
  • anxiety disorders
  • eating disorders
  • mood disorders (depression, bipolar)
  • personality disorders
  • post-traumatic stress disorder
  • psychosis disorders (schizophrenia)


If you think you may fall into one of these topics, consult your doctor.

You are at a higher risk of developing persistent post-concussion symptoms if your mental state was altered before the event.

  • changes in sleeping/eating patterns
  • changes in mood
  • getting easily angered/being impatient
  • difficulty coping with stress
  • difficulty concentrating
  • changes in appearance
  • increased isolation
  • fatigue 
  • changes in weight
  • hearing or seeing things that aren’t there

Concussion Care Kelowna is not responsible for the following links to be updated and is only providing some of many available resources for your mental health needs.

Mental Illnesses

Mental Health Information

Improving Mental Health

BC Resource Library

Symptoms of ABI and mental illness can overlap and it can be difficult to determine whether the issues are the result of an ABI or the mental illness. The first step is to get an assessment by a neuropsychologist or psychiatrist.


Mental Health & ABI

How do I get to Concussion Care Kelowna?

We are located in Sopa Square on Pandosy St.
If you enter from Pandosy St:
For elevator access, enter through the main building entrance to the right of the courtyard.

Or take an immediate right to the glass door to your right and go up the stairs, we are the first right on the second floor.


PARKING: pay parking behind Sopa can be accessed from Cedar or Groves Ave. 
Alternative choice: street pay parking on Pandosy

Need some more guidance? Visit our Contact Us page.