CONCUSSIONS

Learning the signs and symptoms of a concussion can be crucial in the protecting of your brain. You can make a big difference in educating your community about concussion and keeping kids and teens safe from injury.

WHAT IS A CONCUSSION?

A concussion is an injury to the brain that results in temporary loss of normal brain function. It is usually caused by a blow to the head. In many cases, there are no external signs of head trauma. Many people assume that concussions involve a loss of consciousness, but that is not true. In many cases, a person with a concussion never loses consciousness.

The formal medical definition of concussion is a clinical syndrome characterized by immediate and transient alteration in brain function, including alteration of mental status and level of consciousness, resulting from mechanical force or trauma.

People with concussions often cannot remember what happened immediately before or after the injury and may act confused. A concussion can affect memory, judgment, reflexes, speech, balance and muscle coordination. Paramedics and athletic trainers who suspect a person has suffered a concussion may ask the injured person if they know their name, what month/year it is and where they are.

Even mild concussions should not be taken lightly. Neurosurgeons and other brain-injury experts emphasize that although some concussions are less serious than others, there is no such thing as a "minor concussion." In most cases, a single concussion should not cause permanent damage. A second concussion soon after the first one does not have to be very strong for its effects to be permanently disabling or deadly.

WHAT ARE THE SYMPTOMS?

Like concussions, mild injuries to the brain may not be observable in routine neurological examinations. Diagnostic tests typically will not show any changes. Therefore, diagnosis is based on the nature of the incident and the presence of specific symptoms, confusion being a primary one.

The principal features of confusion are:
  • Prolonged headache
  • Vision disturbances
  • Dizziness
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Impaired balance
  • Confusion
  • Memory loss
  • Ringing ears
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Loss of smell or taste

WARNING SIGNS

The warning signs of a serious brain injury are the following:
  • Pain: constant or recurring headache
  • Motor dysfunction: inability to control or coordinate motor duncations or disturbance to keep balance
  • Sensory: changes in ability to hear, taste or see; dizziness; hypersensitivity to light or sound
  • Cognitive: shortened attention span; easily distracted; overstimulated by the environment; difficulty staying focused on a task, following directions or understanding information;feeling of disorientation, confusion and other neuropsychological deficiencies
  • Speech: difficulty finding the "right" word; difficulty expressing words or thoughts; dysarthric speech

**SEEK HELP FROM A HEALTHCARE PROFESSIONAL IMMEDIATELY IF ANY OF THESE WARNING SIGNS ARE PRESENT IN YOU OR SOMEONE YOU KNOW**