The brain is cushioned in the skull by spinal fluid that gently absorbs the impact that occurs during the normal motions of everyday activities. A concussion is the most common type of traumatic brain injury and is generally the result of a sudden, significant blunt-force trauma to the head or body. A concussion may have moderate to severe impact on brain function. Vision may be altered; the sense of balance may be lost; and a loss of consciousness may occur.
Concussion may cause physical, cognitive, emotional, and/or behavioral deficits although it is not usually life-threatening. All concussions however, should be taken seriously.
Each year in the U.S., falls account for the greatest incidence of traumatic brain injury or concussions, followed by motor vehicle accidents. Construction accidents and sports injuries are also major contributors.Bicycle and motor bike accidents also cause a significant number of traumatic brain injuries. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), an estimated 1.6 to 3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions occur in the U.S. each year.
Symptoms of concussion may be mild to severe and should be suspected in the presence of any one or more of the following symptoms or abnormal behavior.
- Loss of consciousness
- Seizure or convulsions
- Amnesia/ Memory loss
- “Pressure in the head”
- Neck pain
- Blurred vision
- Balance problems
- Ringing in ears
- Light sensitivity
- Noise sensitivity
- Changes in taste and smell
- Feeling slowed down
- Feeling like “in a fog”
- “Don’t feel right”
- Difficulty concentrating
- Difficulty remembering
- Fatigue or low energy
- More emotional
- Nervous or anxious
Seek medical attention is any of the following occur:
- Altered level or loss of consciousness
- Muscle weakness on one or both sides
- Persistent confusion
- Persistent vomiting
- Unusual eye movements
- Walking difficulty
An initial baseline neurological evaluation should be done by a physician. Normally, treatment involves monitoring the patient by a physician over a period of time and rest from physical activity. Special care should be taken to avoid addition injury during this time. Repeat head injuries or cumulative concussions can have long-term implications. Recovery, which may be prolonged, is usually complete.
Brain Injury Prevention
- Always wear a seatbelt when riding or driving a car.
- Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol.
- Remove falling and tripping hazards in the home like curled rugs, loose electrical cords and misplaced toys.
- Install grab bars and handrails if you are elderly or have a physical limitation.
- Use helmets or protective head gear approved by the ASTM for specific sports.
- Always supervise younger children, and do not let them use sporting equipment or play sports that are not age appropriate.
- Do not permit children to play on playgrounds with hard surfaces.
- Do not dive into water less than 9 feet deep.
- Do not participate in sports when you are tired or not well.
- Cyclists and in-line skaters should obey all traffic signals and traffic laws.
- Replace sporting equipment or protective gear that is damaged.