Concussions are a type of traumatic brain injury that can affect your thinking, memory, and mood. They are most commonly caused by an impact to the head or a violent shaking. It accounts for about 60% of TBI (traumatic brain injury).
Concussions don’t always cause loss of consciousness, but they do cause other symptoms such as headaches, problems with concentration and memory, balance problems, and coordination issues.
Most people recover fully after a concussion, but it’s important to get checked out by a doctor if you’re worried about your symptoms because they may last longer than expected or get worse over time if not treated properly.
It’s not always easy to understand what happens when you get a concussion, but here’s the basic idea: your brain is soft and squishy, and it’s surrounded by cerebrospinal fluid. Your skull is hard, but the cushion between your brain and skull is made up of cerebrospinal fluid–and that’s what cushions your brain from impact.
When you experience a concussion, your brain bounces or twists inside your skull or experiences rapid, whiplash-type back-and-forth movement that causes it to collide with the inside of your skull. This stretches and damages brain cells and leads to chemical changes in the brain.
These injuries cause your brain not to function normally for a brief period and result in the signs and symptoms of concussion.
Concussions are most commonly caused by falls, motor vehicle accidents (like car accidents), sports injuries (like getting hit in the head while playing football), or head trauma during birth or infancy (when your skull isn’t fully formed yet).
Which people are more prone to Concussion
- People who are older are at the highest risk for concussion, due to their increased susceptibility as well as more frequent head injuries
- athletes and sportspersons
- people who engage in risky behaviours, such as drinking and driving
- Anyone who rides a bike without wearing a helmet is risking serious injury or death.
- people who do not wear seat belts while in a car
Common Symptoms of Concussion
- Vision disturbances (double or blurry vision)
- Dizziness or imbalance
- Nausea or vomiting
- Memory loss
- Ringing ears
- Difficulty concentrating
- Sensitivity to light
- Loss of smell or taste
- Trouble falling asleep
If any of these occur after a blow to the head, a doctor or professional should be consulted as soon as possible.
Testing and Diagnosis
If you have suffered a concussion, it is important that you report all of your symptoms to your doctor.
The doctor will ask a variety of questions about how the injury occurred, where on the head, and what symptoms are shown. The patient should report any unusual experiences to the doctor.
Brain imaging studies with MRI and CT scans should not be performed routinely in the diagnosis of concussions. They typically do not show any significant changes and, with CT scans, expose individuals to unnecessary radiation. While such tests are more useful for identifying structural defects, an injury from a concussion is metabolic and microscopic in nature that often presents normally on neuroimaging.
How long does it take for a person to recover from a Concussion?
It’s important to know that each concussion is unique, and so is the recovery time. In general, most people recover from a concussion within 14 to 21 days. However, undiagnosed, unrecognized, or poorly treated concussions can delay your recovery – increasing it from the typical two weeks to months or even longer.
If you’ve been diagnosed with a concussion and concussion symptoms are still present after 14 days or symptoms worsen, see a brain specialist who specializes in concussion management.