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Concussion in adults - discharge

Brain injury - concussion - discharge; Traumatic brain injury - concussion - discharge; Closed head injury - concussion - discharge

A concussion may occur when the head hits an object, or a moving object strikes the head. A concussion is a minor or less severe type of brain injury, which may also be called a traumatic brain injury.

A concussion can affect how the brain works for a while. It may lead to headaches, changes in alertness, or loss of consciousness.

After you go home, follow your health care provider's instructions on how to take care of yourself. Use the information below as a reminder.

What to Expect at Home

Getting better from a concussion takes days to weeks, months or sometimes even longer depending on the severity of the concussion. You may be irritable, have trouble concentrating, or be unable to remember things. You may also have headaches, dizziness, or blurry vision. These problems will likely recover slowly. You may want to get help from family or friends for making important decisions.

When You First Go Home

You may use acetaminophen (Tylenol) for a headache. Do not use aspirin, ibuprofen (Motrin or Advil), naproxen, or other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs. Consult your doctor before taking blood thinners if you have a history of heart problems such as abnormal heart rhythm.

You do not need to stay in bed. Light activity around the home is okay. But avoid exercise, lifting weights, or other heavy activity.

You may want to keep your diet light if you have nausea and vomiting. Drink fluids to stay hydrated.

Have an adult stay with you for the first 12 to 24 hours after you are home from the emergency room.

Do not drink alcohol until you have fully recovered. Alcohol may slow down how quickly you recover and increase your chance of another injury. It can also make it harder to make decisions.

Activity

As long as you have symptoms, avoid sports activities, operating machines, being overly active, doing physical labor. Ask your doctor when you can return to your activities.

If you do sports, a doctor will need to check you before you go back to playing.

Make sure friends, co-workers, and family members know about your recent injury.

Let your family, co-workers, and friends know that you may be more tired, withdrawn, easily upset, or confused. Also tell them that you may have a hard time with tasks that require remembering or concentrating, and may have mild headaches and less tolerance for noise.

Consider asking for more breaks when you return to work.

Talk with your employer about:

A doctor should tell you when you can:

When to Call the Doctor

If symptoms do not go away or are not improving after 2 or 3 weeks, talk to your doctor.

Call the doctor if you have:

Related Information

Unconsciousness - first aid
Head injury - first aid
Concussion
Decreased alertness
Concussion in children - discharge
Concussion in adults - what to ask your doctor

References

Giza CC, Kutcher JS, Ashwal S, et al. Summary of evidence-based guideline update: evaluation and management of concussion in sports: report of the Guideline Development Subcommittee of the American Academy of Neurology. Neurology. 2013;80(24):2250-2257. PMID: 23508730 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23508730/.

Harmon KG, Clugston JR, Dec K, et al. American Medical Society for Sports Medicine Position Statement on Concussion in Sport [published correction appears in Clin J Sport Med. 2019 May;29(3):256]. Clin J Sport Med. 2019;29(2):87-100. PMID: 30730386 pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/30730386/

Papa L, Goldberg SA. Head trauma. In: Walls RM, Hockberger RS, Gausche-Hill M, eds. Rosen's Emergency Medicine: Concepts and Clinical Practice. 9th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2018:chap 34.

Trofa DP, Caldwell JME, Li XJ. Concussion and brain injury. In: Miller MD, Thompson SR, eds. DeLee Drez & Miller's Orthopaedic Sports Medicine. 5th ed. Philadelphia, PA: Elsevier; 2020:chap 126.

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Review Date: 6/23/2020  

Reviewed By: Amit M. Shelat, DO, FACP, FAAN, Attending Neurologist and Assistant Professor of Clinical Neurology, Renaissance School of Medicine at Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY. Review provided by VeriMed Healthcare Network. Also reviewed by David Zieve, MD, MHA, Medical Director, Brenda Conaway, Editorial Director, and the A.D.A.M. Editorial team.

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