Concussion Symptoms, Care, Recovery, and Return to Play

Information on concussion injury and recovery from the Regional Concussion Center at Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies in Fort Collins, Loveland, and Greeley, CO. For Athletes, Coaches, and Parents.


What Is A Concussion?

A concussion is a mild injury that disrupts how the brain normally works. It is caused by a sudden blow or jolt to the head that causes the brain to move back and forth. You do NOT need to be knocked out or lose consciousness to have a concussion.


What Are the Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion?


  • Headache
  • Fuzzy or blurry vision
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Balance Problems
  • Dizziness
  • Neck Pain
  • Feeling tired/having no energy


  • Sleeping more than usual
  • Sleeping less than usual
  • Trouble falling asleep


  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Feeling slowed down
  • Difficulty concentrating/easily distracted
  • Difficulty remembering new information


  • Irritability
  • Sadness
  • More emotional
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Lack of motivation


What Should Parents and Coaches Do In The First Days After A Concussion?

A medical doctor should be involved in the athlete’s care because, in rare cases, severe medical problems can occur. Monitor the child
carefully for the first one to two days after injury. Seek IMMEDIATE medical attention if the child displays:

  • Worsening or severe headache
  • Confusion, extreme sleepiness, or trouble waking up
  • Vomiting
  • Weakness or numbness
  • Trouble walking or talking
  • Seizure
  • Sudden change in thinking or behavior


What Can You Expect After A Concussion?

  • Some symptoms of a concussion appear right away, while others may take days or longer to appear after injury. This can happen if one begins to increase cognitive and physical activities too soon. The brain is busy recovering and may not be able to handle its typical activity level.
  • Most young people recover completely from a concussion within one to two weeks, but some may take longer to recover.


How Can You Help?

  • Have the child rest. The brain needs “down time” to recover.
  • Prevent further injury. It is important that the athlete not hit his or her head again while healing.
  • Allow breaks. Concentration may be difficult after a concussion. Short breaks can help the child stay focused.
  • Care for the whole body. Make sure the child gets enough sleep and proper nutrition.
  • Be Patient. Your child may be irritable, tired, or forgetful. These are common symptoms during recovery.


What Should You Do About School?

  • Most students can return to school within a few days. If you are unsure when your child should return, ask a healthcare professional.
  • Inform the student’s teacher and other school personnel about the injury.
  • If problems arise, the student may need extra help. Talk to your doctor and/or the student’s teacher to arrange the support.


When Can A Child Return To Sport Or Other Physical Activity?

  • If your child has any symptoms (physical, cognitive, behavioral), he or she should not resume normal physical activity, particularly anything that might cause another concussion.
  • When a doctor says it is safe to resume physical activity, he or she should develop a specific, step-by-step plan. Some of these steps may be supervised by parents, coaches, and/or athletic trainers familiar with the athlete and his or her injury.


When Should You Seek Further Evaluation?

A team of healthcare professionals familiar with concussion, such as a sports medicine doctor or a neuropsychologist, can offer treatment recommendations and develop a recovery plan. Consider seeing a concussion specialist if:

  • Symptoms worsen at any time.
  • There is concern about the length of recovery time.
  • The athlete has had other concussions.
  • The child has risk factors for a prolonged recovery, such as history of migraines, learning or attention problems, depression or anxiety.
  • There is a decline in school performance. A neuropsychological assessment may be useful to understand how the child is thinking, learning, or behaving.



Main Number for Orthopaedic & Spine Center of the Rockies: 970-493-0112

Appointments: 970-419-7050

General Email:


More Information

Printable Concussion Care Flyer