About mild traumatic brain injury or concussion

A mild traumatic brain injury (MTBI) or concussion is an invisible injury caused by a rapid back-and-forth movement of the head that causes the brain to hit the walls of the skull.

An MTBI/concussion can result from an incident involving:

  • a direct blow to the head OR
  • an impact to any other part of the body that transmits an impulsive force to the head

Evolution of symptoms

Most people who have suffered an MTBI/concussion find that their symptoms diminish noticeably within 14 days following the incident. For most people, the symptoms disappear within four weeks following the incident.

However, some people may take longer to recover from an MTBI/concussion.

Recognition of risky situations

Information gathering helps identify a situation where a person may have sustained an MTBI/concussion. This step is crucial for determining the action to take and for steering the person toward the appropriate services.

Here are a few examples of incidents that could result in an MTBI/concussion:

  • Someone bangs their head on the cupboard door while stacking their dishes.
  • A load falls on a worker’s head.
  • A senior falls down stairs.
  • A young child gets hurt on playground equipment at a childcare centre or in a park.
  • A child gets hit in the head by the ball in a dodge ball game.
  • A teen gets crashed into during a concert.
  • A skier bangs their head after slipping on a sheet of ice.
  • A child falls in the schoolyard.
  • A teen falls off a skateboard.
  • Two people smash their heads together in a physical education class or during a rugby game.
  • A hockey player is body-checked.
  • A player is hit hard in the face by a basketball or a baseball.
  • A cheerleader is hit in the temple by the heel of the athlete they are tossing.
  • A person spends a few minutes too long on a mechanical bull.

Concussion in a recreational and sports context

The benefits of a physically active lifestyle on physical and psychological health are well known. However, it is essential to keep in mind that practising physical, recreational and sports activities can involve risks of injury, particularly the risk of an MTBI/concussion.

Compared with other daily life situations, the practice of physical, recreational or sports activities is more likely to cause repeated concussions in a very short time. The participant can be more vulnerable to a subsequent concussion even after a slighter initial impact. In such cases, the consequences can be ten times worse. If your situation is similar to that of an MTBI/concussion in a sports or recreational context, please consult the Concussion Management Protocol.


If it appears that an incident has caused an MTBI/concussion, the person must immediately be removed from the situation. In addition, someone must stay with the person in order to observe their condition.

In some contexts, particularly in educational institutions and sports and recreational organizations, recognized activity supervisors are present to help the person assess the situation. If your situation appears to be an MTBI/concussion in a sports or recreational context, please consult the Concussion Management Protocol page.

Last update: April 11, 2023


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