A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury. A concussion occurs when a blow or jolt to the head causes the brain to move back and forth within the skull cavity. Jarring movements to the head which result in an impact with the skull wall may cause bruising, bleeding or tissue tears in the brain. Concussions come from three types of injuries: direct impact injuries, acceleration-deceleration injuries, and blast injuries.
Direct impact injuries are when your head collides with an object and the impact bruises and damages the brain. Acceleration- deceleration injuries come from whiplash conditions in a car accident. In other words, the rapid forward and backward movement of the head in reaction to the impact. Blast injuries occur when in close proximity to explosions and result in sound waves damaging the brain. Most commonly direct impact injuries and acceleration-deceleration injuries occur in auto accidents.
Signs of a Concussion
A concussion often results in an altered mental state that may include a period of unconsciousness at the scene of the accident. Concussions often come with symptoms of confusion, nausea, blurry vision, and dizziness. These symptoms may not appear for the first few hours following the accident or even days depending upon the severity or grade of the concussion. Those with a concussion may also experience a newfound sensitivity to light, feel nauseous or even vomit. They may have ringing in their ears and be confused in regards to the date and time of day.
Grade 1: No loss of consciousness at the scene of the accident. Amnesia is present but affects the patient for less than 30 minutes.
Grade 2: The injured party loses consciousness for less than five minutes at the scene of the accident. This unconsciousness is followed by 30 minutes to 24 hours of amnesia.
Grade 3: Consciousness is lost for more than 5 minutes and amnesia lasts for more than 24 hours.
Concussions may occur without any loss of consciousness and therefore, are further categorized by the duration of the amnesia.
Potential Lasting Symptoms
You may experience trouble falling asleep and find yourself sleeping too little or too much. Even if you get enough sleep, you may have feelings of fatigue or exhaustion.
You may have memory problems including difficulty in remembering new information, trouble with concentrating or thinking, and often feel confused.
Mood instability may occur with an increase in irritability, feelings of sadness, feelings of nervousness or anxiety.
Most people who sustain a concussion or mild traumatic brain injuries are back to normal often in a week or two almost always within a few months. But others may have long-term problems from the concussion.
Due to the nature of a head injury, the injured person may lack the judgment to make an informed decision regarding whether or not to go to the hospital. Passengers, drivers, or family and friends can be instrumental in urging the injured party to seek medical treatment.
Upon receiving treatment, your doctor may perform tests on your vision, hearing, strength, sensation, balance, coordination, and reflexes to test for a concussion. They may also administer tests for memory concentration and check your ability to recall information.
Rest is the most important thing to help you recover from a concussion. Resting allows your brain to physically and mentally recover. Included with rest is avoiding activities that may aggravate your condition such as physical exertion, sports or any vigorous movements. You may also need to reduce activities that require mental concentration, such as playing video games, watching TV, doing schoolwork, reading, texting or using a computer.
As your symptoms improve, you may increase the amount of time you spend doing activities that require concentration.
Your doctor will discuss with you when it’s safe for you to resume light physical activity. Resuming sports too soon may result in a secondary concussion or even worse brain injuries. For headaches stemming from the concussion, you can take acetaminophen or Tylenol but it’s best to avoid ibuprofen, Advil, Motrin and aspirin as these medications may increase the risk of bleeding as they have a blood-thinning effect.