Regional Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Outpatient Program

If you think you have had a concussion recently (in the past 48 hours) see your doctor or go to the nearest emergency department. For information on what to do after a concussion review our concussion care guide.

The Acquired Brain Injury Outpatient Program at St. Joseph's Health Care London's Parkwood Institute provides care for patients with brain injuries through outpatient and outreach services across Southwestern Ontario. This includes patients with mild, moderate and severe brain injuries. Concussions are a form of brain injury, referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury or mTBI.

Learn more about concussions
A concussion is a brain injury caused by a hit to the head or other part of the body. When the head or body is hit, the force causes the brain to move back and forth inside the skull causing an injury.

Did you know a concussion is considered a brain injury?
There are three levels of brain injury; mild, moderate, and severe. A mild brain injury is also called a mild traumatic brain injury or mTBI. Ninety per cent of people with a brain injury have a mTBI. This includes people with a concussion who have persistent symptoms.

How does a concussion affect someone?
A concussion is an invisible injury. You cannot tell someone has had a concussion just by looking at them. The injury affects how the brain works. Everyone’s experience after a concussion is different.

Brain injury affects different people in different ways.

Symptoms you may notice after your injury:
  • headaches
  • dizziness
  • balance issues
  • vision issues
  • hearing changes
  • pain
  • weakness
  • seizures
  • feel tired all the time
  • communication challenges
  • change in sleep patterns
  • problems with your memory and concentration
  • changes in your ability to manage yourself and your life
  • changes in your personality
  • changes in your emotions and ability to cope

Concussion symptoms
Symptoms of a concussion can be physical, mental, behavioural and/or emotional. Some symptoms happen right after the injury to the brain. Some can develop or get worse over time. These are known as persistent symptoms.

Physical symptoms
  • headache
  • nausea
  • vomiting
  • blurred vision
  • double vision
  • seeing stars
  • problems with your balance
  • dizziness
  • sensitivity to light
  • sensitivity to noise
  • ringing in the ears
Behavioural and emotional symptoms
  • frustration
  • anger
  • feeling down
  • depression
  • anxiety
  • sleeping more than usual
  • difficulty falling asleep
Mental symptoms
  • feeling “slowed down”
  • difficulty concentrating
  • feeling dazed
  • memory problems
  • unable to multi-task
  • not feeling like yourself

Seek immediate medical attention if you have any of the following symptoms related to your concussion:

  • stiff neck
  • fluid and/or blood leaking from nose or ears
  • difficulty waking up
  • difficulty remaining awake
  • fever
  • headache that gets worse, lasts a long time, or is not relieved by over-the-counter pain relievers
  • vomiting three times or more
  • problems walking and talking
  • problems thinking
  • seizures
  • changes in behaviour or unusual behaviour
  • double or blurred vision
  • changes in speech (slurred, difficult to understand or does not make sense)

The first 48 hours after a concussion - REST

A concussion can affect your reaction time, vision and ability to think. Do not drive a car until your family doctor says it’s okay.

Drugs and alcohol
Using non-prescription drugs and alcohol may make your concussion symptoms worse and increase your recovery time.

Limit exercise and activities where you have to use a lot of energy. Your brain regulates your heart. Your concussion may affect this regulation. Stop physical activity if you feel your heart racing, feel tired or have other concussion symptoms. Do not participate in activities or sports where you could have another hit to the head or body.

It’s important to tell your family about your concussion. Explain what you need them to do to help you recover.

Mental rest
Your concussion can affect your memory, concentration and how you process information. You may find reading, watching TV, using a computer or tablet tires you out now. Stop these activities if you experience symptoms such as a headache.

Take time off work or reduce your workload. The demands of work can trigger symptoms or make them worse.