Concussions (Traumatic Brain Injury)
May 2, 2019
While no injury is ever welcome, a brain injury takes worrying about trauma to a whole new level. After all, cognitive abilities originate in the brain, as well as memories, the capacity to comprehend simple concepts, and the dexterity needed to live independently.
The brain is not immune to injury, and it’s important to be armed with knowledge about concussions. While some people lose consciousness after experiencing a brain injury, others don’t even realize that their brain suffered trauma. Therefore, it’s crucial to recognize the symptoms. Doing so can help you obtain adequate treatment and prevent irreversible complications.
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (TBI). It occurs when the brain is jolted back and forth too quickly. This sudden movement can create chemical changes and damage to brain cells, blood vessels, and nerves. In some instances, a concussion may also cause the brain to bleed, which can be fatal.
Causes of Concussions
Concussions are caused by a hard blow to the head, as a result of a car crash for example, or violently shaking the head. It’s also possible to experience a traumatic brain injury from a hard blow to the upper body.
Risk Factors for Developing a Concussion
Any activity that could result in injury to the head poses a risk of concussion. Some of the most common risk factors include:
- Playing contact sports
- Not wearing adequate protective gear
- Being involved in a car accident
- Being a victim of domestic violence
Concussion Signs and Symptoms
Depending on the severity of the injury, signs may be obvious, such as a cut or bruise to the head, followed by any of the symptoms listed below. For some people, symptoms don’t start appearing until several days after the injury.
While some people do not experience any symptoms, those who do could experience them for several days or even weeks. These signs include:
- Ringing in the ears
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Memory loss
- Difficulty concentrating
- Changes in personality
Concussion Signs and Symptoms in Children
When concussions occur in a child, look for the following symptoms:
- Loss of balance
- Change in sleeping patterns
- Change in eating patterns
- Loss of interest in playing and toys
If none are apparent immediately, monitor your child for 24 hours after a head injury to watch for any behavioral changes.
When to See a Doctor for a Concussion
Anything that looks or feels like cause for alarm, usually is. Therefore, if you notice that a loved one who recently experienced a head injury is slurring their speech, vomiting, having seizures, or loses consciousness, seek medical care immediately.
Even if symptoms seem minor (such as a headache or nausea), see a doctor as soon as possible if symptoms do not subside or if they worsen.
If a child is injured, seek medical attention if the child is less than one year old.
Diagnosis and Treatment of Concussions
The doctor will ask detailed questions about the type of injury the patient experienced, as well as evaluate their vision, hearing, speech, coordination, reflexes, and balance.
The doctor will also assess the patient’s ability to concentrate and recall memories, facts, and information. In addition, they will likely order imaging tests, such as X-Rays, CT scan or MRI to confirm diagnosis. There’s a chance that the patient will have to be hospitalized overnight for observation.
Once a concussion has been diagnosed, the patient will require extensive rest to allow the brain time to recover from the injury. This includes both physical and mental respite. The doctor will monitor symptoms and determine when regular activities may be resumed.
Complications for Concussions
Complications from a traumatic brain injury may include chronic headaches, recurring dizziness, and seizures. If the injury was catastrophic, the patient may also experience a marked decline in cognitive abilities, personality changes, trouble communicating, memory loss, and early onset of dementia. All of these factors can also lead to depression.
Prevention of Concussions
While accidents happen and are sometimes unavoidable, there are things you can do to reduce the likelihood of a concussion.
- Exercise regularly. Exercise strengthens muscles, which is essential to maintain balance.
- Wear protective gear. Whether you’re riding a bicycle or playing contact sports such as hockey or football, wear adequate protective gear that’s (a) worn correctly, and (b) well-maintained.
- Wear your seatbelt. Seatbelts exist for reasons other than avoiding traffic tickets. While it is possible for the brain be jolted forward and backward quickly even while wearing a seatbelt, buckling up significantly reduces the risk of head injury.
- Keep your home and surrounding areas well lit. Even when you’re familiar with the layout, objects in the middle of the floor are accidents waiting to happen, especially when a room is too dark.
24-Hour Emergency Room Services in Colorado Springs and Texas
If you or a loved one has suffered from a concussion, we can provide the care you need. If you have questions or need immediate treatment, your nearest Complete Care location is ready to help, no matter the time of day or night. We offer a variety of services to help you and your family in your time of need. No appointments are necessary.
Find the Complete Care location nearest you.