Everything You Need To Know About Concussions

diagram showing brain concussion

Traumatic injury to the brain refers to a short-lived functional loss of the brain because of trauma to the brain which will resolve spontaneously. In concussion, the function could only be disrupted but the brain does not have structural damages. Basically, the brain is floating in cerebrospinal fluid with the skull enclosing it. These protections will allow the brain to withstand a lot of minor injuries which take place on a daily basis. But there is the possibility for injury if sufficient force is present and will cause the brain to bounce against the bones of the skull which are rigid. The function of the brain is often irritated and interrupted due to acceleration and deceleration of the brain against the interior area of the skull. The acceleration is a result of a direct blow the head or face or from other parts of the body which were traumatized and will cause the head to shake. Majority of the concussions occur without the patient becoming lifeless even if temporary loss of consciousness because of injury is usually an indication of concussion. Studies made on football players have determined that most are not aware that they already sustained injury to the head.

Concussion Causes

A blow to the head is known to be the common cause of this kind of condition. However, understanding the mechanism of the cause is very important. It is a common fact that the function of the skull is to house the brain and protect it at the same time. Also, the brain is enclosed with fluid which is known to be cerebrospinal fluid. This fluid will act as a cushion so that the brain will not hit the interior wall of the skull. Hence, a blow that is sudden and unexpected will result to the brain sliding against the wall the skull. Once this takes place, the brain will stop functioning for a short period of time. Some of the common causes that can make people suffer from concussions include car crashes, fights, contact sports and other kinds of accidents.

Types of Concussion

In the past, there had been attempts to classify the seriousness of the concussion based on the duration of the loss of consciousness as well as the presence of amnesia. It was assumed that there was a connection between these events and also the amount of potential damage to the brain. The International Conference on Concussion in Sports made a recommendation to divide concussion into two separate groups namely, simple and complex.

• Simple Concussion: With simple concussion, the symptoms of the person will gradually resolve and the patient will be able to return to his normal function within seven to ten days.
• Complex concussion: With complex concussions, the symptoms will continue to persist and processing of thought is affected. Patients who suffer from recurrent concussions will usually fall into this kind of category.

Concussion Symptoms

concussion signs and symptoms

Both signs and symptoms of a concussion could be subtle and will not be noticeable at once. The symptoms will persist for a couple of days, several weeks and even longer. Amnesia, headache and confusion are some of the symptoms that commonly occur after a concussive traumatic injury to the brain. Amnesia may or may not take place before loss of consciousness but this will always involve loss of memory due to impact that resulted from concussion.

Amnesia: This is among the signs of head concussion that is most common. Amnesia can be classified into two forms and both are found in cases of head injury. The first one is retrograde amnesia in which the memories before the injury are lost while the second one is anterograde amnesia in which the victim will not be able to recall the memories of the events that occur after the injury has taken place. With head concussion, anterograde amnesia is highly possible. More often than not, the symptoms will become obvious only a day after the trauma or these may even show up after seven days.

Confusion: A lot of patients who have had head concussion will usually experience mental confusion. However, this can be quite difficult to determine. This would mean that any particular area of the brain is not functioning well. Some of the indications of confusion include constant repetition of the same questions, forgetful about their location, incapable of following directions provided to them, personality changes and many more. Confusion would also result to frequent loss of temper and irritability.

Loss of Consciousness: Decrease in the level of consciousness is an indication of a major injury to the head due to head concussion. This type of deterioration in the patient’s condition will be observed during the first several days of concussion. Although, this is a rare symptom, it should always be given consideration. Once you take notice of this symptom, make sure to contact the ambulance to bring the patient to the hospital’s emergency room at once.

Other Symptoms: In children, slurred speech is a common sign of concussion. A physician has to be consulted if kids do not recover from this symptom immediately. Other symptoms of head concussion include fatigue, presence of weakness on any side of the body, tinnitus or ringing in the ears, unable to maintain the balance of the body, sensitivity to light, dizziness, headache, vision is blurred, vomiting, drowsiness, unequal pupils and a lot more. It can be considered a minor concussion if the symptoms previously mentioned are mild and persist for a short period of time. But if symptoms will continue or become worse, the patient has to be given emergency medical care. Continue reading about the symptoms of mild concussion.

The signs and symptoms of a concussion are:

• Headache or there is pressure felt in the head
• Loss of consciousness which is temporary
• Confusion or foggy feeling
• Unable to recall events around the traumatic event
• Dizziness or able to see stars
• Ringing present in the ears or tinnitus
• Vomiting or nausea
• Speech is slurred
• Feeling of weakness

The onset of some symptoms of concussions can be instant or delayed by hours or days following injury. These symptoms include:

• Complaints regarding loss of concentration and memory
• Irritated and other changes in personality
• Sensitivity to both noise and light
• Disturbances in sleep
• Problems with psychological adjustment and depression
• Inability to taste and smell properly

Symptoms of Concussion in Children

Trauma to the head is extremely common in young people. However, concussions may be tough to determine in both toddlers and infants since they are not able to communicate easily how they feel. Some of the nonverbal clues that occur with concussion are:

• Listlessness or easily gets tired
• Easily gets irritated or get cranky
• Patterns of sleeping or eating has changed
• There is no interest even in his favorite toys
• Balance is lost and walking has become unsteady

Concussion Treatment

There are plenty of self-care techniques which can be useful in order to relieve the symptoms of concussion. These are outlined below.

In order to reduce swelling, ice can be applied to the head injury. Take note that ice should not be applied directly to the scalp since this might damage the skin. You can wrap the ice with washcloth or towel instead. You can also make use of a bag of frozen vegetables like peas as an alternative. Application of the ice is done every two to four hours and it should be maintained on the area for about twenty to thirty minutes.

Pain can be controlled by taking paracetamol. Non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs or NSAIDS such as ibuprofen or aspirin to reduce or eliminate the pain should not be used since these can sometimes result to bleeding at the area where the injury occurs.

• Adequate rest is important and stay away from stressful situations as much as possible.
• Try to avoid intake of any alcohol or use of recreational drugs.
• When you think that you have recovered completely, that is the time you can return to work, college or school.
• Also, when you believe that you have completely recovered, you can return to driving a car or riding a bike.
• Playing of any kind of contact sports like football or rugby should be avoided for at least three weeks especially if you have spoken to your doctor about it.
• Within the first 48 hours after the injury, be sure to keep someone with you in case you will have some severe follow-up symptoms.

In concussion treatment, time is usually a friend because majority of the symptoms will resolve within seven to ten days. The treatment is focused on symptom control for dizziness, insomnia, nausea and headaches. It may be important to discuss your situation with your employer in order to let him be aware of issues with regard to poor work performance brought about by difficulty in both concentration and comprehension.

Anybody who has head concussion must visit the doctor the soonest possible time even if that person does not have symptoms that are noticeable. Usually, doctors will perform a thorough check up of the head to determine signs of bruises. Also, the level of consciousness, coordination of movements, reflexes, memory and many more are examined. Several tests will help them determine the severity of the head injury. MRI scans or CT scans are also performed in order to detect the presence of any kind of fractures in the skull. Doctors would often prescribe medicines to relieve pain on the head or any other type of pain. Take note, however, that medicines obtained over the counter must not be used without talking to the doctor first. Head concussion is best treated with rest. This can also be accompanied with physical therapy. The instructions from the doctors have to be closely followed. The doctor may perform more tests if no signs of improvement are observed.

It will take more time for recovery to take place for head concussions when compared to an injury that occurs in other areas of the body. Thus, even if the symptoms of head concussion will subside, resumption of activities should not be done without the permission from the physician. Concussion prevention is very essential for people who used to have head concussion. This is due to the fact that if a person will suffer from recurrent head concussions, this will greatly affect the normal functioning of the brain later on.

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Concussion Recovery Time

The brain will need time to head after suffering from concussion. It is very important to wait until all of the signs of concussion will be cleared off. The amount of time a person will need to recover will depend on how long the symptoms will persist. It is extremely necessary to talk with your doctor before you decide to go back to work. The physician will closely monitor the person affected in order to ensure that everything is well. This time can vary from one individual to another and will greatly depend on the seriousness of the concussion. Even if the signs and symptoms will decrease within several hours, the brain will need sufficient time to heal. Until the brain will completely recover, the risk of damage to the brain is still possible.

It is very vital to properly care for yourself after a concussion. In case, you suffer another injury to the brain during the period of healing, the recovery time for concussion will be lengthened to a large extent. Every time a person suffers from a concussion, this will bring additional damage. Bear in mind to take maximum care of yourself during this period since repeated concussions can be very dangerous. In addition, the risk for injury to the brain is doubled every time a person will suffer from a concussion. Concussion prevention is the most common safety measure all of us can take for our health. The best that you can do is to care for your brain properly and allow it to care for you in return.

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