Maj Hemstad
There are a variety of symptoms associated with concussion, or mild TBI, but not all patients will have all of the symptoms. Symptoms are generally categorized as physical, cognitive, behavioral, or emotional. Some healthcare providers include sleep symptoms as a separate category as well. Dr. Green, will you tell us about the symptoms of mild traumatic brain injury?

Dr. Green
Absolutely, Dr. Hemstad. Patients may have any combination of any number of these symptoms. Not all patients will experience these symptoms, and the duration and severity can differ significantly among individuals. 

The physical symptoms of mild TBI, or concussion, may include:

  • Headache, which is the most common physical symptom of mild TBI
  • Dizziness or balance problems
  • Nausea
  • Fatigue or sleep disturbance, such as insomnia
  • Blurred vision or sensitivity to light
  • Hearing loss or hearing difficulties
  • Tinnitus, or a ringing in the ear
  • Sensitivity to noise
  • Seizure, and
  • Numbness or tingling

Cognitive symptoms, or symptoms affecting thought processes, may include:

  • Problems with attention, focus, or concentration
  • Memory problems
  • Slower speed of processing
  • Difficulties with judgment, and
  • Problems with executive control, which includes the ability to determine right from wrong and to override or control reactions when appropriate

Behavioral and emotional symptoms of mild TBI may include:

  • Depression
  • Anxiety
  • Agitation
  • Irritability
  • Impulsivity, and
  • Aggression

For most people who experience a concussion, these symptoms will fully resolve within a few days or weeks. However, the chances of having ongoing problems is the same whether a patient is only dazed or actually loses consciousness after the traumatic event. It’s also important to know that after one brain injury, the risk of a second injury is three times greater, and after the second injury, the risk for a third brain injury is six to eight times greater than average. The more brain injuries that a person experiences, the more likely they are to have long-term problems.