A concussion is caused by a bump, blow or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works.

Concussions also can occur from a fall or blow that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth. A person does not need to lose consciousness in order to sustain a concussion.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion include:

  • Headache
  • Blurry vision
  • Dizziness
  • Trouble concentrating and/or remembering
  • Feeling slowed down or "in a fog"
  • Becoming more emotional
  • Irritability
  • Trouble falling asleep or sleeping more than usual
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Balance problems

In some cases, immediate emergency medical attention may be needed if any of these symptoms occur:

  • Weakness, numbness or loss of coordination
  • One pupil (black part in the middle of the eye) is larger than the other
  • Unusual behavior
  • Any symptoms that worsen over time
  • A sudden decline in mental status and alertness

Most people with a concussion recover fully and quickly. For some people, however, symptoms may last for weeks or even months.

According to Maine law, when a person shows any signs/symptoms of a concussion following a blow or fall that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth, he must be immediately removed from the activity he's participating in and not return to activity for the rest of the day.

Continuing to play while experiencing concussion symptoms can lead to a worsening of symptoms, increased risk of injury or even death.

The person should not be left alone and regular monitoring for deterioration of symptoms is essential during the initial hours after the injury. All student athletes who may have sustained a concussion should be evaluated by a health care professional trained in the management of concussions.

During the period of recovery for the first few days after injury, it is important to emphasize to the athlete that physical and cognitive rest is required.

Activities that require concentration and attention (using a computer, playing video games, texting) may worsen the symptoms and may delay recovery.

According to Maine law, the athlete must be medically cleared by an appropriate health care professional and have written documentation before being allowed to return to play when concussion symptoms have resolved.

When medically cleared, the athlete should follow a return-to-play protocol to allow the brain to re-adjust to exertion. An example of this is:

  • No activity; complete rest, unless advised differently by your health care provider. Once symptoms are gone, move to step 2.
  • Light exercise including walking or riding an exercise bike. No weight lifting.
  • Sport-specific exercise (skating in hockey, running in soccer); no equipment or helmet.
  • Non-contact training drills in full equipment; weight training can begin.
  • Full contact practice or training.
  • Game play.

If symptoms occur at any step, activity should be stopped and the athlete should return to the previous step after 24 hours.

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