What Is the Difference Between Contusions and Concussions?

Even though they are separate conditions, contusions and concussions have several similarities.

  All Articles

Posted: 11/22/2018
 Personal Injury    Motor Vehicle Accident  

Any number of accidents can lead to a blow to the head, potentially causing a traumatic brain injury (TBI). These damages can be incredibly dangerous for victims, commonly leading to lifelong consequences, even death. Some of the most common types of TBIs are contusions and concussions.

Even though they are separate conditions, contusions and concussions have several similarities as well. Both often result from a blow to the head, and they can become incredibly serious if left untreated. It's also possible to suffer both a concussion and contusion at the same time, though that doesn't occur in all cases. Understanding the fundamental differences between these conditions can help you better understand the impact they can have on victims.

What Is a Contusion?

Contusions are TBIs that occur in a focused area and are comparable to bruises. When someone suffers a contusion, the affected area can swell, causing pain. Blood often clots at the site of a contusion, which can lead to the risk of cardiovascular troubles. Just like other types of bruises, a contusion can range anywhere from nearly no risk to potentially serious consequences, depending on the severity of the injury.

Depending on which area of the brain has suffered the contusion, possible symptoms can be:

  • Changes in cognition
  • Difficulties with remembering
  • Trouble coordinating movements
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Problems understanding speech
  • Numbness and tingling
  • Issues speaking

If you've only suffered a minor contusion, then you may only experience faint pain or no symptoms at all. Larger contusions, on the other hand, can be life-threatening.

What Is a Concussion?

Concussions are one of the most well-known types of TBIs, especially when discussing sports injuries. Like a contusion, concussions are a form of TBI. However, a concussion often affects a much larger area of the brain. Many people who suffer from concussions lose consciousness at the time of injury.

Like contusions, the exact symptoms of a concussion can vary, depending on the extent of the damage.

Common symptoms include:
  • Changes in behavior, memory, or attention span
  • Sleepiness, confusion, or a fog-like sensation
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Vomiting
  • Slurred words or other changes in speech
  • Intense migraines or feelings of pressure in the head
  • Dizziness
  • Difficulty understanding conversations or responding to questions

Some victims of concussions start to exhibit symptoms immediately, while others may not see signs of the damage for a few days after the accident. Experiencing several concussions over time can cause permanent damage to the brain or threaten someone's life. Someone who has had a concussion may also have several contusions bruising the brain as well, which can increase risk and worsen symptoms.

The Importance of Seeking Medical Help After a Traumatic Brain Injury

While concussions and contusions are not always deadly, they can be. Even so-called "minor" TBIs can cause severe problems. The key to preventing these issues is to receive appropriate medical treatment as soon as possible. If quickly administered, medical care can reduce the potential impact of a TBI. Rapid treatment can also save someone's life.

Since some TBIs have incredibly delayed symptoms, it's important to always seek medical treatment after sustaining a blow to the head. Aside from delayed reactions, the adrenaline of an accident can make it difficult to feel how much pain there is from an injury.


Since TBIs are the result of a blow to the head or even rapid shaking of the brain, a contusion or concussion could occur in any type of accident. You should always seek immediate medical treatment if you have suffered a blow to the head, even if the damage does not seem serious. If you start to black out, you likely have a concussion.

Thankfully, it's possible to recover from these types of TBIs with appropriate treatment and by following your doctor's orders about proper rest and avoiding physical risk. And if you suffer a TBI due to someone else's negligence, you may be eligible to receive compensation through a personal injury claim.

  Sign Up for More!

Join our community and subscribe! Sign Up for Exclusive Legal Articles and Resources.