What is a Concussion?
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury, or TBI, caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head that can change the way your brain normally works. Concussions often occur from a blow to the body that causes the head to move rapidly back and forth. Even a “ding,” “getting your bell rung,” or what seems to be mild bump or blow to the head can have serious consequences. When a concussion has occurred there is a chemical imbalance inside the brain, which interferes with the nerve cells that send signals. Cognitive function has been disrupted. Concussions can occur in any sport or recreation activity. They can also happen during the course of everyday life. A fall from a bicycle, a slip on the ice, or a blow to the jaw with a lacrosse stick can all cause concussions. Everyone, including coaches, parents, athletes, and grandparents need to learn how to identify a concussion and the appropriate actions to take. A quick response that includes removing an athlete from play and calling for immediate medical assistance and evaluation in the event there may be potential head trauma can prevent possible brain damage and facilitate future recovery.
Seek immediate emergency care if an adult or child has the following symptoms:
- blood or fluid coming out of her nose or ears
- loss of consciousness
- worsening headaches
- vomiting repeatedly
- difficulty breathing
- trouble walking or standing
- change in pupil size (one is bigger than the other, or both are abnormally enlarged)
- slurred speech or difficulty speaking
- noticeable bruising or a large bump anywhere on head
What are the most common symptoms observed/reported by parents, spouses, and work colleagues?
Headache, unbalanced or uncoordinated at the event, sleeping more than usual, more irritable than usual, forgetting simple things.
What are the most common symptoms observed/reported by patients?
Headache, fogginess or “things not being sharp,” photo-sensitivity, sadness, difficulty remembering things, unsteady gait.
What to do if you or your child sustains a concussion
First, see a licensed medical professional in order to be medically evaluated. Depending on the severity of the injury, cognitive tests may be needed to gain a better understanding of the extent of injury. Rest (both physical and mental) is usually the best treatment for a concussion. Specific brain rest in which there is a reduction of stimuli such as computers, television, noise, and bright lights as well a reduction in physical activities give the brain time to heal. Your doctor will give specific instructions. There is no quick answer to how quickly you or your child will recover. Symptoms typically improve within a few days or weeks, can linger for a month or two, with other patients experiencing longer term symptoms and needing more time to recover. Subsequent evaluations after symptoms have cleared up can verify that it is okay to resume a normal work or sports schedule. Patients can resume their normal school, work, home and sports/activity routines as long as they have been evaluated by a healthcare provider experienced in the evaluation of concussion and given the okay to return to play and work. Contact your primary care physician or call 1-855-SIT IT OUT to schedule an appointment.
The symptoms of a concussion can be tough for kids to recognize. Dr. Mike Evans is founder of the Health Design Lab at the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute explains concussions for kids and parents.