Concussion

(Mild Traumatic Brain Injury)

Definition

A concussion is an injury to your brain that causes problems with how the brain works. It can affect brain tasks like memory, balance, concentration, judgement, and coordination.Most will have a full recovery but the brain will need time to heal with the proper rest and monitoring.

Causes

A concussion is caused by a sudden, violent jolt to the brain. The force can cause stretching and tearing to the brain and soft tissue that supports it. Forces that can cause this type of damage include:
  • A blow to the head
  • Severe jarring or shaking—like a bad fall
  • Abruptly coming to a stop—most common in car accidents
How a Concussion Occurs
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Risk Factors

Factors that may increase your chance of a concussion include:
  • A previous concussion or head injury
  • Participation in contact sports like football or boxing, especially during competition
  • Work that involves farming, logging, or construction where the potential for a head injury is high
  • Being in a car accident
  • Increased susceptibility to concussion
  • Alcohol intoxication
Concussions most often occur with:
  • Motor vehicles
  • Bicycles
  • Skates, skateboards, and scooters
  • Sports and recreation
  • Falls
  • Firearms
  • Physical violence including domestic abuse or child abuse

Symptoms

A concussion can cause symptoms that may last for days, weeks, or even longer. They may be immediately present or appear a few hours or days after the injury. The symptoms that develop will depend on the severity of the injury. More common symptoms are listed below. Physical symptoms may include:
  • Low-grade headache or neck pain
  • Loss of balance or coordination
  • Feeling lightheaded
  • Ringing in the ears or trouble hearing
  • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Feeling fatigued or tired
  • Increased sensitivity to sounds, light, or distraction
  • Numbness
  • Change in sleeping pattern, sleeping more than normal or trouble sleeping
  • Seizures
Mental and emotional symptoms may include:
  • Confusion
  • Loss of consciousness or memory about the accident
  • Trouble processing information such as difficulty:
    • Remembering things
    • Paying attention or concentrating
    • Organizing daily tasks
    • Making decisions and solving problems
  • Slowness in thinking, acting, speaking, or reading
  • Mood instability or changes such as:
    • Feeling sad, anxious, or listless
    • Becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason
    • Lacking motivation
  • Hallucinations
A doctor should be consulted if serious symptoms like confusion and vomiting occur or if symptoms get worse.Young children may not be able to clearly communicate symptoms. Talk to a doctor if the child has had a head injury and is showing any of the following symptoms:
  • Listlessness or tiring easily
  • Irritability or crankiness
  • Changes in:
    • Eating or sleeping patterns
    • Play
    • Behavior
    • School performance
  • Lack of interest in favorite toys or activities
  • Loss of new skills, such as toilet training
  • Loss of balance, unsteady walking

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