Also known as: Mild Traumatic Brain Injury

The Providence Concussion Management Program teaches patients, physicians and community members how to manage concussions in order to minimize long-term effects. Our physicians specialize in treating sports-related concussions, as well mild traumatic brain injuries caused by accidents or falls. They use the latest treatments and refer patients for rehabilitation services when needed.


A concussion can be caused by a direct blow to the head, neck, face, or somewhere else on the body with the force being transmitted to the head. This may cause you to lose consciousness – be "knocked out" - but not always. Depending on the severity of the blow, it will take from a few hours up to a few days to get better. Sometimes symptoms may last a few months or longer. This is called post-concussion syndrome.

At first, you may have a headache, nausea, vomiting, or dizziness. You may also have problems concentrating or remembering things. This is normal.

Symptoms should get better as the hours and days go by. Symptoms that get worse could be a sign of a more serious injury. This might be a bruise or bleeding in the brain. That’s why it’s important to watch for the warning signs listed below.

Home care

If your injury is mild and there are no serious signs or symptoms, your healthcare provider may recommend that you be monitored at home. If there is evidence that the injury is more serious, you will be monitored in the hospital. Follow these tips to help care for yourself at home:

  • After a concussion, your healthcare provider may recommend that a family member or friend monitor you for 12 to 24 hours. They may be told to wake you every few hours during sleep to check for the signs below.

  • If your face or scalp swells, apply an ice pack for 20 minutes every 1 to 2 hours. Do this until the swelling starts to go down. You can make an ice pack by putting ice cubes in a plastic bag and wrapping the bag in a towel.

  • You may use acetaminophen to control pain, unless another pain medicine was prescribed. Do not use aspirin or ibuprofen after a head injury. If you have chronic liver or kidney disease, talk with your doctor before using these medicines. Also talk with your doctor if you ever had a stomach ulcer or gastrointestinal bleeding.

  • For the next 24 hours:

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

    • Don’t drive or operate machinery.

    • Avoid doing anything strenuous. Don’t lift or strain.

  • 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.

  • Avoid doing activities that require a lot of concentration or a lot of attention. This will allow your brain to rest and heal quicker.

Follow-up care

Follow up with your doctor in 1 week, or as directed.

Note: A radiologist will review any X-rays or CT scans that were taken. You will be told of any new findings that may affect your care.

When to seek medical advice

Call your healthcare provider right away if any of these occur:

  • Repeated vomiting

  • Headache or dizziness that is severe or gets worse

  • Loss of consciousness

  • Unusual drowsiness, or unable to wake up as usual

  • Weakness or decreased ability to walk or move any limb

  • Confusion, agitation, or change in behavior or speech, or memory loss

  • Blurred vision

  • Convulsion (seizure)

  • Swelling on the scalp or face that gets worse

  • Changes in pupil size (the black part of the eye)

  • Redness, warmth, or pus from the swollen area

  • Fluid draining from or bleeding from the nose or ears