A concussion is an “invisible injury”, making it difficult to recognize and manage.

An estimated 1 in 165 Canadian adults suffer a concussion each year 1, 2


Concussions are the most common form of brain injury. They are caused by a hard blow to the head, neck, or body resulting in rapid movement of the brain within the skull. This movement causes damage to the nerve fibers within the brain and can change the way the brain functions.

You do not have to be hit in the head to get a concussion. Leading causes of concussion are from falls, motor vehicle crashes, and sports and recreation activities.

It is good to assume that a concussion could have occurred even if you are not sure, and even if there are no immediate signs or symptoms of concussion—concussion symptoms can be delayed for hours or even a few days. Concussion symptoms vary from person to person and case to case. Some people may experience only 1 or 2 symptoms, while others experience many more. 


You do not need to be woken up every 2 hours on the first night once you’ve been diagnosed with concussion

Immediate recognition is the key to concussion recovery


90% of concussions DO NOT involve a loss of consciousness.


Most concussions, managed appropriately, resolve without complications. Most people recover from concussion within 2 to 4 weeks, but 15 to 30% of people with a concussion will experience persistent symptoms. An injured brain is vulnerable to stress and re-injury. When you have a concussion, you are at a 3 times higher risk of suffering another concussion. Delaying seeking treatment of a concussion can lead to long-term consequences.

Click here to view the Concussion Pathway to learn how to respond to a potential concussion. 


Immediate Signs of Concussion

  • Lying on the ground without moving
  • Slow to get up
  • Grabbing or holding head in hands
  • Looking dazed
  • Acting confused, not sure what is happening
  • Slurring speech, not speaking clearly
  • Stumbling, poor balance or coordination
  • Restless

Symptoms of Concussion

If you have any symptoms, unusual behaviour, or you are just feeling strange after the incident, seek medical care from a licensed medical professional who can diagnose a concussion.


  • Headache
  • Dizziness or light-headedness
  • Nausea
  • Blurred vision
  • Seeing stars (light or dark spots in your vision)
  • Sensitivity to bright lights
  • Sensitivity to loud noises
  • Confusion
  • Difficulty remembering things
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Tiredness or drowsiness
  • Not feeling right, feeling off
  • Frustration, annoyance, or anger
  • Anxiousness
  • Sadness
  • Sleeping Problems

The first step in concussion recovery is to rest for 24 to 48 hours.

  • Minimize strenuous physical and cognitive activity.
  • Take naps if needed.

After the first two days it is important you gradually start to be more active. Follow a Return to Activity plan in consultation with a licensed medical professional.


Concussion Awareness Training Tool (CATT)

CATT modules are available in both English and French, providing tailored concussion eLearning educational resources for medical professionals, coaches, parents and caregivers, school professionals, high performance athletes, workers and workplaces, and women’s support workers working with survivors of intimate partner violence.

Work is in progress on to create and evaluate a new CATT module for high school participants in sports.

SHRed Concussions

Researchers at BCIRPU, UBC, and UBC-O are conducting a study to improve recognition and management of sports-related concussion in children/youth. Surveillance in High Schools to Reduce Concussions and Consequences of Concussions (SHRed Concussions) is a three-year longitudinal, Canada-wide, cohort study aimed at reducing the burden of sport-related concussions (SRC) and their consequences across youth sport populations. Researchers are recruiting high school athletes who participate in school or club sports associated with a higher risk of concussion; specifically: basketball, football, ice hockey, ringette, lacrosse, rugby, soccer, volleyball, cheerleading, or wrestling).

To learn more about SHRed, visit SHRed Concussions Study.


Children and youth ( 0 - 19 years ) have longer recovery times than adults


Taking steps to prevent concussion requires a combination of increased awareness, action, and education.

  • Use the appropriate equipment: Hard hats at worksites and helmets worn during sport and recreational activity can protect from serious skull or dental injuries, but they DO NOT prevent the brain from moving around when there is an impact to the head or body. Required equipment for work, sport, or activity should be in good condition and fit properly.
  • Support concussion reporting: Supporting a positive environment for reporting concussion symptoms sooner can make the biggest difference in preventing more serious concussion outcomes and associated risks.
  • Promote responsibility and fair play: Be responsible for your own actions and in action to protect yourself and others from concussion. Encourage fair play in sport and model respect and sportsmanship in the presence of others.
  • Create safe work environments: Create a culture of reporting, support injured workers, conduct workplace risk assessments, and provide concussion prevention training. Reduce slips, trips, and falls by decluttering walkways and workspaces, cleaning up spills, and using appropriate signage.
  • Change policy to reduce violent incidents: Enhance personal safety addressing inadequate lighting and barriers that block sight lines and escape routes. Create workplace policies, provide training, adjust staffing levels, provide means of emergency communication, and exercise vigilance.
  • Educate yourself and others: Learning about concussions helps to understand how serious a concussion can be. It also provides the tools to recognize and report a concussion if suspected.

Accurate diagnosis, proper management, appropriate follow-up


For more information on concussion, contact BCIRPU Associate Director Dr. Shelina Babul, or Researcher Ms. Kate Turcotte


1. Cassidy, J. D., Carroll, L., Peloso, P., Borg, J., Von Holst, H., Holm, L., … & Coronado, V. (2004). Incidence, risk factors and prevention of mild traumatic brain injury: results of the WHO Collaborating Centre Task Force on Mild Traumatic Brain Injury. Journal of rehabilitation medicine, 36 (0), 28 – 60. Available from

2. Ryu, W. H. A., Feinstein, A., Colantonio, A., Streiner, D. L., & Dawson, D. R. (2009). Early identification and incidence of mild TBI in Ontario. Canadian Journal of Neurological Sciences, 36(4), 429-435. Available from