Concussion

A concussion is an injury to your brain. The brain does not work right for a while after a concussion. You may have problems with things like memory, balance, concentration, judgement, and coordination. Your brain will need time to heal after a concussion. Most will have a full recovery with the proper rest and monitoring.

  • Causes

    A concussion is caused by a sudden, violent jolt to the brain. It may be caused by:

    • 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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    Concussions most often occur with events that involve:

    • Motor vehicles
    • Bicycles
    • Skates, skateboards, and scooters
    • Sports and recreation
    • Falling down
    • Firearms

    • Physical violence such as

      • Assault and battery
      • Domestic violence
      • Child abuse

  • Definition

    A concussion is an injury to your brain. The brain does not work right for a while after a concussion. You may have problems with things like memory, balance, concentration, judgement, and coordination.

    Your brain will need time to heal after a concussion. Most will have a full recovery with the proper rest and monitoring.

  • Diagnosis

    The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. The doctor may also ask others who witnessed the accident to describe what happened and how you reacted. A physical exam will be done. It will often include brief tests for strength, sensation, balance, reflexes, and memory.

    Imaging tests evaluate the head, brain, and surrounding structures for injury and/or damage. These may include:

    • CT scan
    • MRI scan

  • Prevention

    To prevent vehicle accidents and head injuries associated with car accidents:

    • Do not drink alcohol and drive.
    • Do not take medicines that may make you sleepy, especially when driving or using heavy equipment.
    • Obey speed limits and other driving laws.
    • In vehicles, always use seatbelts and child safety seats. Only use child safety seats when traveling. Do not use them outside of the vehicle.

    To prevent concussions with recreational activities and sports:


    • Wear a helmet when:

      • Riding a bike or motorcycle
      • Playing a contact sport like football or hockey
      • Using skates, scooters, and skateboards
      • Catching, batting, or running bases in baseball or softball
      • Riding a horse
      • Skiing or snowboarding
    • Wear mouth guards, face guards, pads, and other safety gear while playing sports.

    To prevent accidents at home that can lead to concussions:

    • Make sure your child's play surface is soft and free of rocks, holes, and debris.
    • Use handrails when walking up and down stairs—teach your child to do so
    • Have safety gates by stairs and safety guards by windows
    • Use grab bars in the bathroom
    • Place non-slip mats in the bathroom
    • Keep walkways clear to avoid tripping
    • Make sure rooms and hallways are well-lit

  • 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
    • Iincreased susceptibility to concussion
    • Alcohol intoxication

  • Symptoms

    A concussion can cause symptoms that may last for days, weeks, or even longer.

    Symptoms may include:

    • Confusion
    • Loss of consciousness (happens in < 10% of concussions) or memory about the accident
    • Low-grade headache or neck pain
    • Nausea

    • Trouble:

      • Remembering things
      • Paying attention or concentrating
      • Organizing daily tasks
      • Making decisions and solving problems
    • Slowness in thinking, acting, speaking, or reading
    • Feeling fatigued or tired

    • Change in sleeping pattern:

      • Sleeping much longer than usual
      • Trouble sleeping
    • Loss of balance
    • Feeling light-headed or dizzy

    • Increased sensitivity to:

      • Sounds
      • Lights
      • Distractions
    • Blurred vision or eyes that tire easily
    • Loss of sense of taste or smell
    • Ringing in the ears or trouble hearing

    • Mood changes:

      • Feeling sad, anxious, or listless
      • Becoming easily irritated or angry for little or no reason
      • Lacking motivation
    • Seizures

    Symptoms that may appear in a child with a concussion include:

    • 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

  • Treatment

    The goal of treatment is to allow the brain to heal. The brain can heal on its own with rest and avoiding activities that may be harmful while it heals.


    If you are diagnosed as having a concussion, follow your doctor's
    instructions
    .