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Concussion in Adults

There are over 1 million traumatic brain injuries in the United States each year.  Over 75 % of these are felt to be mild traumatic brain injury or concussion.  The most common causes of mild brain injury and concussion are falls, motor vehicle accidents, assaults and sports.

Adults most at risk for concussion are young adults up to age 24 and older adults ages 75 or older.  Recovery from brain injury can sometimes be slower in adults over 40 years of age.

What are the symptoms of concussion?

  • Headache
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Changes in sleep
  • Nausea/vomiting
  • Difficulty remembering

What is the right treatment?

If you have been diagnosed with a concussion or mild brain injury, the most important treatment is rest. You should limit your physical activities if you are experiencing symptoms like the ones listed above. This includes sports, exercise and heavy house cleaning. You should also not participate in contact sports. It is also important to limit mental activities where you need to pay attention or concentrate including work, school, watching television, and playing computer or video games.  You may need more rest during the day and getting a good night’s sleep will help your brain heal. Repeat concussions or brain injury before you have healed can be very dangerous.

You should not drink alcohol or take medications which make you more sleepy such as sleeping pills or pain medications.  It may be helpful to avoid caffeine including coffee, tea, some sodas and chocolate.

When can I return to activities?

You may begin a gradual return to physical and mental activities once symptoms are completely gone. Usually it is a good idea to start with shorter periods of activity and more frequent breaks as you return to your normal schedule. Avoiding another brain injury is very important as your brain heals.

What do I need to know about my recovery?

Most patients recover completely from concussion. No special tests or treatments are usually necessary.

When do I need to see my doctor?

If symptoms are not improved within 1 week, you should call your primary care physician.  A referral to a brain injury specialist may be appropriate.

For more information

Kaiser Permanente Sacramento/Roseville Brain Injury Program

  • Department of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation
    2025 Morse Avenue
    Sacramento, CA 95825
    Phone: 916-973-6729


  • Dr. Jean Lai
  • Dr. Marian Te Selle