Concussion

Concussions are very tricky to diagnosis. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries caused by a blow to the head or body, perhaps a fall or another type of injury that shakes the brain inside your skull. There may be cuts on the head or face, but there may be no other signs of a brain injury that are apparent to others. With rest and quiet most patients recover from a concussion. Some recover within a few hours and others take a few weeks.

In very rare cases, concussions can cause serious problems. If you have repeated concussions to a severe concussion you may require surgery or have long lasting problems with learning, speaking or movement. If you suspect a concussion it is important to contact a doctor.

Causes

The brain is a very soft organ surrounded by fluid and protected by the skull. Usually the fluid around the brain acts like a cushion and keeps the brain from banging into your skull. If your head or body is hit hard enough, your brain will crash into the skull and be injured. Falls, playground injuries, football smashes, bike and car crashes will cause concussions.  You can also get a concussion when snowboarding, skiing or playing soccer. If a baseball hits you in the head you might just experience a concussion.

Symptoms

It is not easy to know whether you or someone else has suffered a concussion. You don’t have to pass out or lose consciousness to have a concussion. Symptoms can be very mild to severe and last for hours, days or even months. Watch out for:

  • Thinking and memory skills. If you find that you are not thinking clearly or feeling slowed down. Stop and rest. Not being able to concentrate and unable to remember new information are signs of a concussion.
  • Physical symptoms can include blurry vision, a headache, vomiting and nausea and dizziness. You may feel sensitive to light or noise and have balance problems. If you have no energy you may be experiencing a concussion.
  • Emotional symptoms might include being sad or nervous and anxious. You may be easily upset or angered and sleep more than usual. You can also have a hard time falling asleep.

Watch for symptoms in young children who cry more than usual, continual headaches, changes in the way they act, sleep, eat or play. Additional symptoms might be loss of new skills, loss of balance, and not being able to pay attention (more than usual). If your child is an unusual sad mood and has banged their head; you might want to treat them for a concussion.

Treatment

If you are concerned about whether you should wait and see or seek medical attention, it is best to get medical attention. Many people may have a simple headache or feel dizzy for a day or so and then be fully recovered, but there are those who could develop bleeding or a blood clot and these are life threatening.

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Brain injuries are common but diagnosing a concussion is tricky. There are many variables like trauma, balance or memory issues and dizziness. Rest is the best treatment for concussions. Your brain has run out of gas, so to speak, and needs to recharge. Rest is needed since the brain continues to heal even when the symptoms are gone. Do not read, listen to music or watch television. No texting, no email and stay away from the cell phones. Rest means physical and cognitive rest.

If you continue to have nausea and headaches talk to your provider even if you have already talked to them. They may direct you to the ER where a specialist in brain trauma will check you over.

Continue monitoring concussion symptoms for up to 10 days. Rest the body and the brain. Returning to exertion and sports should not be a consideration unless all the symptoms have disappeared. There is no medication that will help the brains’ chemicals return to balance. Time and rest are the only treatments. Do note that if you return to exertion, activities or sports before your brain has completed healed, another jolt will send you into second impact syndrome or a rapid and fatal brain swelling.

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