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Head Concussion Facts

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury that is caused by a blow to the head, a fall, or any other injury that jars or shakes the brain inside the skull.

Symptoms of Concussion

Often, there are no visible signs of a brain injury. Symptoms of a concussion range from mild to severe, and can last for hours, days, weeks, or even months.

Some people will have obvious immediate symptoms including:

Some symptoms of concussion may be delayed in onset by hours or days after injury, including:

Symptoms that require immediate emergency medical attention (even if symptoms are delayed) include:

In rare cases, concussions cause more serious problems. Repeated or severe concussions may lead to long-lasting problems including:

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What Causes a Concussion?

Common Causes of Concussion

Your brain is a soft organ that is surrounded by spinal fluid and protected by your skull. If your head or body is hit hard enough, your brain can crash into your skull and be injured. These include:

Treatment for Concussion

With rest, most people fully recover from a concussion. The time it takes to recover depends on the severity of the injury, the speed of diagnosis, early treatment, and the individual. In general, the following guidelines will assist patients in recovery.

Athletes

No one should return to play or participate in any vigorous activity while signs or symptoms of a concussion are present. Experts recommend that an athlete with a suspected concussion not return to play until they have been medically evaluated and have followed the return to play protocol that is recommended by their sport. It is also recommended that no one with a concussion should return to play on the same day as the injury, only when cleared medically.

General Adult Population

The following are tips for healing after a concussion has occurred.

  • Rest
    • Get plenty of sleep at night and rest during the day
    • Avoid activities that are physically demanding or require a lot of mental concentration. They can make your symptoms worse and slow your recovery.
  • Mental capacity – these tips will help you avoid frustration
    • Write down the things that you may have trouble remembering
    • Limit yourself to one activity at a time, especially if you’re easily distracted
    • Consult with family members or close friends when making important decisions
  • Medications
    • Only take prescribed medications or those approved by your health care professional
    • Do not drink alcohol until cleared medically to do so. Alcohol and drugs can slow your recovery and increase risk of further injury
  • Return to normal activities – When you are recovered from your concussion and cleared by a medical professional, return to your normal activities gradually, not all at once.
    • Driving – includes riding your bike and operating heavy machinery. Check with your medical provider to determine when it is safe to do so, as concussions can slow reaction time.

Working – after medical clearance has been obtained, you may possibly need a modified schedule and job duties. Communicate your condition clearly with your employer.

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Potential Complications from a Head Concussion Injury

After a concussion, the levels of certain brain chemicals are altered. It usually takes about a week for these levels to stabilize again. This timeline varies, and it is important to not return to normal activities if you’re still experiencing signs and symptoms.

If you already have a medical condition at the time of your concussion, it may take longer for you to recover from the concussion. These conditions include:

After you have recovered from your concussion, you should protect yourself from having another one. People who have repeated concussions may have serious long-term problems. Potential complications include:

It is common for individuals who have experienced a concussion to have some lingering symptoms that may be related to cervical (neck) joint or vestibular dysfunction. Having this evaluated by a spine specialist will assist in diagnosis, recovery, and resolution of these symptoms.

 

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