Concussion Grades: How to Distinguish Degrees of Concussions

Concussions are a type of mild traumatic brain injury, but they are not all mild in nature. The severity of a concussion is categorized using a grading system, denoted as Grade 1, Grade 2, or Grade 3 concussions. In this article, we'll explore what these grades mean and shed light on the complex world of concussions.
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Degrees Of Concussion Overview

Before delving into the specific grades, it's important to understand that no two concussions are the same. Each concussion patient has a unique experience, including variations in symptoms, recovery time, and long-term effects. There’s an adage in concussion treatment that goes, “no two concussions are like.” It’s true – every concussion patient has a different experience with their concussion journey, with regard to: Concussion symptoms Degree of concussion Concussion recovery time Long-term effects of concussion doctor sees man with sports concussion It’s the second one, degree of concussion, on which we’re largely focusing today. Degree of concussion is determined by a concussion grading system that is generally accepted around the world by doctors and providers of concussion treatment. The concussion grading system goes as follows: Grade 1 Concussion – Mild Concussion Grade 2 Concussion – Moderate Concussion Grade 3 Concussion – Severe Concussion What do each of these concussion grades mean? How are they defined? Read on to find out!

Grade 1 Concussion – Mild Concussion

In a Grade 1 Concussion, there is no loss of consciousness. However, individuals with a Grade 1 concussion can experience various symptoms, which may persist for minutes, hours, or days after the injury. These symptoms can include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea
  • Memory loss
  • Difficulty focusing
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Mild confusion
  • Fatigue
  • Irritability
  • Sleep disturbances

Grade 1 concussions are typically associated with minor car accidents and sports injuries.

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Grade 2 Concussion – Moderate Concussion

Grade 2 Concussions share similarities with Grade 1, but they tend to be more severe in terms of symptom degree and duration. In addition to the symptoms seen in Grade 1, Grade 2 concussion symptoms may include:

  • Ringing in the ears (tinnitus)
  • Momentary amnesia
  • More pronounced irritability
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Slurred speech
  • Longer-lasting memory problems
  • Moderate confusion
  • Longer-lasting fatigue
  • Difficulty with complex tasks

Some individuals with Grade 2 Concussions may experience a temporary loss of consciousness, lasting from a few seconds to several minutes.

Grade 3 Concussion – Severe Concussion

Grade 3 Concussion is the most severe category of traumatic brain injury. In these cases, patients may lose consciousness, often for longer durations, exceeding five minutes. Symptoms can resemble those of Grades 1 and 2, but with added complications such as:

  • Amnesia lasting 24 hours or more
  • Visual disturbances (seeing stars or double vision)
  • Frequent vomiting
  • Severe headache
  • Profound confusion
  • Prolonged fatigue
  • Inability to stay awake or arousable
  • Loss of coordination and motor skills

Grade 3 Concussions carry the highest risk of long-term or permanent symptoms and require a more extended recovery period, sometimes lasting two weeks or more.

It is Important to Seek Immediate Medical Attention after a Concussion

Regardless of the grade, it's crucial to seek immediate medical attention if you suspect a concussion, no matter how mild it may appear. Visit the nearest Emergency Room or medical facility, or call 9-1-1. Concussions are not to be taken lightly.

Concussion Treatment at Broadview Health Centre, Ottawa

At our Ottawa concussion clinic, we take a holistic approach to treat concussions. We understand that every concussion is unique and do not follow a one-size-fits-all approach. Our process involves in-depth investigation, assessment, and customized concussion treatment plans tailored to each patient's needs. Try out our online concussion testing tool to help make sense of your symptoms! Contact us today to learn more about our concussion treatment services and to to book your initial appointment at the Broadview Health Centre in Ottawa.