Get Health Answers

What is a Concussion?

What is a Concussion?

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head.  Concussions can also occur from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.  A concussion can change the way your brain normally works.  Concussions are rarely life threatening, and can range from mild to severe.  They can occur even if you do not lose consciousness.  Multiple concussions can have cumulative and long lasting life changes.

What are the signs and symptoms of a concussion?

  Concussion symptoms may include:

  • Headache
  • Confusion
  • Fuzzy or Blurry vision
  • Nausea or vomiting (early on)
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Feeling sluggish, tired, or groggy
  • Feeling unusually irritable
  • Sleeping more or less than usual
  • Trouble falling asleep
  • More emotional
  • Nervousness or anxiety
  • Difficulty thinking clearly
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty remembering new information

Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully. For some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or even longer. In general, recovery may be slower among young children, teens and older adults. Those who have had a concussion in the past are also at increased risk of having another one. They may find that it takes longer to recover from the next concussion.

How do you recover from a concussion?

Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal.  Ignoring symptoms and trying to "tough it out" often makes the symptoms worse.  Be patient because healing takes time.  Physical exercise or  activities that involve a lot of concentration, such as studying, working on the computer, texting, or playing video games, may cause concussion symptoms (such as headache or fatigue) to reappear or get worse.  If your symptoms come back or you get new symptoms as you become more active, this is a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard.  Only when your symptoms have reduced significantly should you slowly and gradually return to your daily activities.

Tips to help you get better:

  • Get plenty of sleep at night, and rest during the day.
  • Avoid activities that are physically demanding (sports, prolonged walking, heavy housecleaning, working out) or require a lot of concentration (sustained computer use, video games, text messaging).
  • Ask when you can safely drive a car, ride a bike, or operate heavy equipment.
  • Do not drink alcohol.  Alcohol and other drugs may slow your recovery and put you at risk of further injury.

There are many people who can help you as you recover from a concussion.  You do not have to do it alone.  Keep talking with your health care provider, family members, and friends, about how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally. You may be monitored on a regular basis to assess your progress and advance your cognitive and activity restrictions.   If you do not think you are getting better or are getting worse please make an appointment here at the Health Center for a recheck.

Additional resources: (Brain Injury   Association of America)

National Brain Injury Information Center 1-800-444-6443

"Did You Know"(From the Brain Injury Association of America)

  • A concussion is the most common type of brain injury sustained in sports.
  • Most concussions do NOT involve loss of consciousness.
  • You can sustain a concussion even if you do NOT hit your head. A indirect blow elsewhere on the body can transmit an "impulsive" force to the head and cause a concussion to the brain.
  • Multiple concussions can have cumulative and long lasting life changes.
  • Concussions typically do NOT appear in neuroimaging studies such as MRI or CAT Scans.
  • An estimated 1.6-3.8 million sports and recreation related concussions occur in the United States each year.
  • During 2001-2005, children and youth ages 5-18 accounted for 2.4 million sports-related emergency department visits annually, of which 6% (135,000) involved a concussion.
  • Of the 1.4 million traumatic brain injuries sustained by children and adults in the United States each year, at least 75% are mild and/or concussions.
  • Among children and youth ages 5-18, the five leading sports or recreational activities which account for concussions, include bicycling, football, basketball, playground activities and soccer.