A Concussion is a form of traumatic brain injury caused by the brain moving rapidly and violently within the skull. This is normally the result of a hard blow or jolt to the head during contact sports, car crashes, bike riding, and falls. In the U.S., over one million traumatic brain injuries occur each year.
While a concussion is normally not life threatening, it can result in serious health complications, and should be treated with extreme care. A concussion damages brain cells and can result in impaired brain functions, depression, and even CTE. Concussions are also not normally visible during MRI or CT scans, so physicians must carefully evaluate key symptoms to determine whether or not a patient has suffered this type of injury.
There are a number of different symptoms that indicate a person may have suffered a concussion. One telltale sign is a headache that worsens or doesn’t subside. Others include memory loss, difficulty focusing on tasks, numbness, vomiting, and slurred speech. Extreme changes in sleep patterns should be carefully monitored.
If a person begins sleeping for much longer or shorter periods following the injury, one should immediately consult with a trained medical professional. Convulsions, confusion, agitation, and unusual behavior are also potential indicators of a concussion. In extreme cases, a concussion can cause loss of consciousness, which should be met with immediate medical attention. The length of time a patient spends unconscious is also often a key indicator in determining the severity of the brain injury in question.
The initial treatment for a patient suffering from a concussion is rest. It’s natural for a person to want to immediately resume their daily activities following the injury, but this can result in prolonged recovery times. Physician directed rehabilitation and therapy can help as the symptoms become less severe. Most symptoms will get better with time, but some treatments may accelerate the healing.
Avoiding strenuous physical activities is also important. If a person’s job requires heavy lifting or dangerous machinery, they should take the proper time to fully recover before resuming their workloads. The impairment caused by a concussion could lead to even more extensive injuries if a patient were to suffer another concussion during the recovery process. It’s also important to mitigate the risk of incurring another concussion. Individuals who participate in hard contact sports are prone to reinjury, and additional injuries to the brain can result in long-term health complications and mental impairment.