After a Concussion

Girl in bed with woman sitting on bed next to her.If you had a mild concussion (a head injury), watch closely for signs of problems during the first 48 hours after the injury. Follow the doctor’s advice about recovering at home. Use the tips on this handout as a guide.

Note: You should not be left alone after a concussion. If no adult can stay with the injured person, let the doctor know.

Have someone call 911 or your emergency number if you can't fully wake up or have a seizures or convulsions.

The first 48 hours

Don’t take medicine unless approved by your healthcare provider. Try placing a cold, damp cloth on your head to help relieve a headache.

  • Ask the doctor before using any medicines.

  • Don't drink alcohol or take sedatives or medicines that make you sleepy.

  • Don't return to sports or any activity that could cause you to hit your head until all symptoms are gone and you have been cleared by your doctor. A second head injury before fully recovering from the first one can lead to serious brain injury.

  • Don't do activities that need a lot of concentration or a lot of attention. This will allow your brain to rest and heal more quickly.

  • Return to regular physical and mental activity as directed and approved by your healthcare provider.

Tips about sleeping

For the first day or two, it may be best not to sleep for long periods of time without being checked for alertness. Follow the doctor’s instructions.

? Have someone wake you every ____ hours for the next ____ hours. He or she should ask you questions to check for alertness.

? OK to sleep through the night.


When to call the healthcare provider

If you notice any of the following, call the healthcare provider:

  • Vomiting. Some vomiting is common, but tell the provider about any vomiting.

  • Clear or bloody drainage from the nose or ear

  • Constant drowsiness or difficulty in waking up

  • Confusion or memory loss

  • Blurred vision or any vision changes

  • Inability to walk or talk normally

  • Increased weakness or problems with coordination

  • Constant, unrelieved headache that becomes more severe

  • Changes in behavior or personality

  • High-pitched crying in infants

  • Signs of stroke such as paralysis of parts of the body

  • Uncrontrolled movements suggesting a seizure