When to See a Doctor About a Concussion | Shapiro, Washburn & Sharp

Never take any blow to the head lightly.

Concussions demand quick diagnosis and expert treatment. Short- and long-term symptoms range from headaches, dizziness and blurred vision to memory loss, communications problems and personality changes. While often considered “mild” brain injuries, concussions can be every bit as traumatic as skull fractures and visible damage to the brain.


Concussions can develop after any impact to the head, whenever the head snaps back and forth suddenly, and when a person’s body stops suddenly, as when falling to the ground. The problem starts when the brain, which floats in cerebrospinal fluid, sloshes around violently and crashes into the inside of the skull.

Car and truck accidents—especially those involving pedestrians, bike riders and motorcycle riders—are the leading cause of concussions, followed by sports and falls. Experts at the Mayo Clinic recommend seeking emergency medical care whenever a suspected concussion induces one or more of the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness,
  • Seizures,
  • Confusion,
  • Slurred speech,
  • Dilated pupils,
  • Repeated vomiting,
  • Persistent or recurrent dizziness,
  • Stumbling and loss of coordination,
  • A lump or visible bruise on the head, or
  • A headache that just gets worse.

When the signs of a concussion or traumatic brain injury (TBI) are less immediately apparent, going to the doctor is still recommended for anyone who experiences “anything more than a light bump” to the head. This is especially important for anyone who has a history of concussions, as suffering one brain injury increases a person’s risk for subsequent, and more serious, brain injuries.

For individuals who can schedule a doctor’s appointment, my Virginia TBI victim attorneys and I offer this checklist for getting the most out of that visit.

  • Make sure a friend or adult family member accompanies you and speaks with the doctor. Confusion and short-term memory problems caused by a concussion could result in miscommunications and misunderstandings if you go by yourself.


  • Write out key question you want answered. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center suggests asking how long recovery could take, whether you can sleep normally, should you drive, whether you can return to school or work, and which activities you should avoid.


  • Make a list of your symptoms and write out descriptions of their severity. Be sure to include details on whether each symptom is getting worse Taking this list with you will help you provide the doctor with all the information they need to make a diagnosis and prescribe appropriate treatment.