A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way the brain functions. Effects are usually temporary, but can include problems with headache, concentration, memory, judgment, balance and coordination. Every concussion injures the brain to some extent. This injury needs time to rest and heal properly.
The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not be immediately apparent. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer.
- Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:
- Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Dizziness or "seeing stars"
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
Some symptoms of concussions may be immediate or delayed in onset by hours or days after injury:
- Concentration and memory complaints
- Irritability and other personality changes
- Sensitivity to light and noise
- Sleep disturbances
- Psychological adjustment problems and depression
- Disorders of taste and smell
No one should return to play or vigorous activity while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. Experts recommend that an athlete with a suspected concussion not return to play until he or she has been medically evaluated. CUA Athletics evaluates the injured player immediately following the injury and then re-evaluates 48 hours after injury. The next evaluation will be 7 days after the injury occurs.
Non-athletes are seen at CUA Student Health Services (SHS), upon self-report of an injury. They are asked to follow-up with SHS 48 hours after the initial consultation and again if symptoms persist.
Rest is the best way to allow the brain to recover from a concussion. The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends both physical and mental rest. This means avoiding general physical exertion as well as activities that require mental concentration, such as playing video games, watching TV, texting or using a computer. School workloads should also be temporarily reduced. This is critically important for the first week following injury. After that the amount and type of activity that can occur is determined on a case-by-case basis.
For athletes, the CUA Athletics staff will determine when the athlete can return to play. Resuming sports too soon increases the risk of a second concussion and of lasting, potentially fatal brain injury. No one should return to play or vigorous activity while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present.
The following is a list of some of the possible accommodations that might be recommended to students who have a concussion. Disability Support Services will make the decision about appropriate accommodations based on medical documentation and consultation with the student.
- Gradual re-introduction to class attendance
- Gradual re-introduction to homework and assignments
- Extra time to complete assignments
- Limited exposure to computer screens or flashing/bright presentation
- Extra time on tests
- Alternative testing environment
- Breaks during tests
- Materials in an audio format (to avoid screen glare)
If you have further questions, please contact our office at 202-319-5211. We would be happy to discuss any specific situation with you.