A simple bump can result in a concussion – and the signs are not always immediate. Whether you are shaken up immediately or not, you need to head to the doctor or ER to get checked out. Concussions are serious, and left untreated they can morph into something much worse. Below are the signs that you need to look for after you crash your bike, to gauge your concussion risk.

Symptoms of a Concussion

  • Loss or change in consciousness
  • Nausea and/or vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Disorientation
  • Inability to speak or swallow
  • Amnesia
  • Significant trauma to the head
  • Clear fluid leakage from the nose or ears
  • Inability to walk or ride their bike in a straight line
  • Seizure

Moreover, Some Symptoms Can Display Immediately:

  • Any loss of consciousness
  • Headache
  • Neck pain
  • Poor balance
  • Nausea
  • Decreased reaction time
  • Memory disturbance
  • Confusion
  • Blurred vision
  • Sensitivity to noise or lights
  • Dizziness
  • Emotionality
  • Head shaking, trying to “clear the fog”
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability or anxiety

Riders, who have sustained a minor injury leading to concussion, can be more challenging to identify. The tests immediately following trauma are imperfect as symptoms of concussion can evolve over time. Symptoms of concussion should signal that you need medical attention, and if still on the bike, to immediately withdraw from your cycling. Symptoms can evolve for up to 14 days and persist for many weeks afterwards. Monitor for the following symptoms and signs as these suggest the need for further medical evaluation. Changes in mood or memory noted by team members/family, including:

  • Increased irritability
  • Disinhibited behavior
  • Increased sadness, anxiety, or nervousness
  • Aggressiveness
  • Change in sexual drive or behavior
  • Ongoing headaches
  • Fatigue or low energy
  • Ongoing difficulties with concentration or “fogginess”
  • Insomnia / trouble falling asleep
  • Changes in reaction time, especially if athlete has increased number of crashes

The primary treatment for concussion is to rest the brain. Cognitively stimulating activities such as physical activity, computer work, e-mail, watching videos, school or work, or event attending loud or stressful events, continue to stress the brain and prolong recovery.  Await complete resolution of post-concussive symptoms such as headache and dizziness prior to initiating any such activity.

While all concussions cannot be avoided, you can take steps to help yourself. By wearing helmets, cyclists significantly decrease their odds of head and skull injury, but cannot prevent concussion completely.  Ideally, following any suspected concussion, a properly trained medical staff member would perform a complete neurological exam.