Concussion – An overview
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI) that is caused by a blow to the head, neck or upper body which alters the mental state. Though most concussions are not life threatening, they have a temporary effect and requires time and rest to heal the injury properly.
Some of the common events that can cause concussion are:
- Car or bike accidents
- Playground injuries
- Sports like football, boxing, hockey, skiing and snowboarding
- Physical abuse
These activities can affect the brain function for a brief period of time, resulting in signs of concussion.
Common symptoms of a traumatic brain injury are:
- Blurry vision
- Delayed response to questions
- Loss of consciousness
- Loss of memory (amnesia)
- Nausea and vomiting
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Sleep disorders
In case of children, symptoms may include crying profusely, temper tantrums, lack of interest in playing, lack of learning new skills, loss of balance while walking and not paying attention.
The doctor will ask questions related to the injury to test the patient’s memory and check if he is able to pay attention. The doctors may suggest a neurological examination to evaluate the patient’s vision, hearing, reflexes, strength, balance, coordination and sensation.
Cognitive skill testing is also conducted to evaluate patient’s memory, concentration and his ability to recall. If the symptoms are severe i.e. excessive headaches, seizures or repeated vomiting, then the doctor may recommend imaging tests like CT scans and MRI to evaluate if the brain is injured or if there is any internal bleeding.
Rest is the best treatment for concussion as it allows the brain to recover from the injury. Doctors may prescribe pain relievers to subside headaches.
Any sort of physical exertion or sports should be absolutely avoided until the injury is healed completely. The doctors may even ask the patient to avoid alcohol consumption until the traumatic brain injury is completely healed. No medication should be taken until prescribed by the doctor. The patient will have to ask the doctor before resuming driving a car or riding a bike.