A concussion is a traumatic brain injury.
The definition of a concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) resulting from a collision, blow, or hit to the head or body that results in some temporary loss of brain function and other symptoms. The sudden and jarring movement of the head may cause the brain to bounce around within the skull and a person may experience disturbances in thinking or equilibrium, and even loss of consciousness in some cases.
Most concussions result in a loss of consciousness.
Most people who get a concussion do not lose consciousness. If a person loses consciousness due to a blow to the head or body, even for just a few seconds, seek medical attention immediately.
What are symptoms of a concussion?
Some common symptoms of a concussion include an inability to remember what happened immediately before or after an injury (amnesia), confusion, feeling dazed, headaches, mood changes (irritability, depression, nervousness), problems with memory or judgment, impaired reflexes or speech, loss of balance or muscle coordination, and sleep disturbances.
Symptoms of a concussion may last anywhere from just a few hours to days, weeks, and longer. Older adults, young children, and teens recover more slowly than younger adults. Those who have had prior concussions may also take more time to recover from subsequent concussions.
In adults, what are danger signs for concussions?
Danger signs for concussions in adults include weakness, numbness, decreased coordination, headache that gets worse and does not go away, repeated vomiting, slurred speech, or seizures.
If a person experiences a blow to the head take them to an emergency department immediately if they are extremely drowsy or cannot be awakened, if one pupil (the black part in the middle of the eye) is larger than the other, if they experience convusions or seizures, if they cannot recognize familiar people or places, if they experience extreme confusion or agitation, or if they lose consciousness.
Take toddlers and children to the emergency department immediately if they have experienced blow to the head or body and have any of the above symptoms, or if they will not stop crying or refuse to nurse or eat.
What is the leading cause of concussion?
The leading cause of concussions is falls, which account for 40% of all trauamatic brain injuries in the U.S. The second leading cause is unintentional blunt trauma, which describes being hit by an object such as while playing sports. Motor vehicle crashes are the third leading cause of traumatic brain injury, but the second leading cause of death from TBI. Finally, about 10% of traumatic brain injuries are caused by assaults.
How can concussions in children be prevented?
There are a number of ways to reduce the risk of concussion and serious brain injuries.
- Children should always wear properly-fitted helmets for any sports. These will not prevent concussions, but they can reduce the risk of serious brain injury and skull fracture.
- Make sure children follow all sports safety rules.
- Use appropriately sized and properly installed car seats and booster seats.
- Install gates at the top and bottom of stairs to prevent falls in infants and toddlers.
- Take children to playgrounds that use soft materials under the equipment such as mulch or sand, rather than grass or dirt.
What is post-concussive syndrome?
Post-concussive syndrome (or PCS) is a complication of a concussion. Not everyone who experiences a concussion will have symptoms that occur immediately following the injury. In some cases, delayed concussion symptoms occur hours or days after the trauma. In other cases concussion symptoms such as dizziness and headaches can persist for months at a time.
Images provided by:
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3. Getty Images
CDC. What is a Concussion?
CDC. Facts about Concussion and Brain Injury.
American Association of Neurological Surgeons. Concussion.
CDC. Injury Prevention & Control: Traumatic Brain Injury. Traumatic Brain Injury in the U.S. Fact Sheet.
CDC. Heads Up. Brain Injury Safety Tips and Prevention.
Medscape. Postconcussive syndrome.
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