For many of us, the word “concussion” may conjure up images of a disoriented or unconscious athlete—professional or amateur—surrounded on the field or court by medical staff. But concussions aren’t limited to athletes. As a matter of fact, most of us have been at risk for a concussion at some time or another.
A concussion is traumatic brain injury caused either by a direct blow to the head or violent shaking of the head and upper body. When the trauma initially occurs, the brain moves through the surrounding protective gel-like fluid and strikes the inside of the skull, which in turn affects brain function for a short period of time.
While concussions can result in loss of consciousness, they most often result in disorientation, lack of coordination, loss of balance and short-term memory loss. Most concussions are not serious in nature and the effects are usually temporary, although headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination may persist until the injury has completely healed. With rest, most concussions heal entirely on their own and without any long-term effects.
Concussions are common among those who play contact sports like football, hockey, soccer and boxing. They can also occur if proper safety equipment is not utilized during sporting or adventure activities or in situations without proper supervision.
Aside from contact sports, concussions can occur in any of the following situations:
- Involvement in a motor vehicle, bicycling or pedestrian accident or collision
- As a result of a physical altercation or abuse
- An accident that results in a fall
- Being struck in the head by a falling or thrown object
- During military combat
- As a result of a previous concussion
While most concussion symptoms manifest themselves fairly quickly after the initial trauma, the signs of a concussion can be subtle and can take longer to develop. Symptoms can last anywhere from a few days or weeks, and in some cases, they can last months.
Common immediate symptoms include headache, confusion and loss of memory of the event that caused the injury. Other symptoms include:
- Loss of consciousness
- Pressure in head
- Ringing ears
- Slurred speech
- Drowsiness and fatigue
- Nausea and vomiting
- Sensitivity to light or noise
- Disrupted sleep patterns
If you or a family member suffers from anything more severe than a small bump or mild shock to the upper body and head, you should seek immediate medical attention. If you are unsure about the severity of the injury, call your doctor for advice.
You should seek immediate emergency treatment for yourself or a family member if the any of following symptoms arise:
- Altered alertness and consciousness
- Persistent, unresolved confusion
- Muscle weakness on either or both sides of the body
- Eye pupils that are not of equal size and/or unusual eye movements
- Continuous vomiting
- Problems walking or with balance
- Comatose state characterized by lengthy and continuous unconsciousness
If you have active, sports-oriented children or teens, the CDC offers information to help you minimize risk of and respond to concussion and other serious brain injuries.
Posted: 5/13/2015 by
Filed under: Brain, Concussion, Head, Injury