Recognition and characteristics of concussions in the emergency department population

J Emerg Med. 2005 Aug;29(2):189-97. doi: 10.1016/j.jemermed.2005.01.020.


An anonymous survey was conducted over a 6-month period of time using consenting Emergency Department (ED) patients in an attempt to better understand concussions occurring in the ED population. Calculations were made using the respondents' history and self-reported symptoms during the previous 12 months. Five hundred twenty-two of 700 approached patients responded to the anonymous questionnaire. Of respondents, 20.1% (105/522) answered that they had experienced symptoms of a concussion after being hit in the head during the previous 12 months. Of the 105 respondents who experienced a concussion, 88.6% (93/105) did not recognize that they had suffered a concussion. There were 28.2% (147/522) of all respondents who were actively engaging in at least one activity that was considered to be at high risk for concussions. Headache was the most common symptom for both recognized and unrecognized concussions. Respondents who experienced nausea after being hit in the head were the most likely to seek some form of medical attention, followed by people who suffered a loss of consciousness. Those patients who suffered a loss of consciousness were the most likely to visit an ED. Many patients have a poor understanding of concussions and these patients may be actively participating in high-risk activities while still suffering symptoms from a concussion. Therefore, these patients may be at risk for further concussions and Second Impact Syndrome.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Athletic Injuries / epidemiology
  • Brain Concussion / epidemiology*
  • Brain Concussion / therapy
  • Confusion / epidemiology
  • Dizziness / epidemiology
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / statistics & numerical data*
  • Female
  • Headache / epidemiology
  • Health Surveys
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nausea / epidemiology
  • Odds Ratio
  • Patient Acceptance of Health Care / statistics & numerical data
  • Quebec / epidemiology
  • Recurrence