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What is a Concussion?

A concussion, also called a mild Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) occurs as a result of a blow or an injury to the head. Concussions are common in people involved in sports such as football, ice hockey, snow skiing, bicycling, etc. Usually, a concussion may be mild and does not result in long-term damage, but repeated concussions can cause permanent brain damage.

Causes for Concussions

Your brain is protected by cerebrospinal fluid within your skull that acts as a shock absorber against minor trauma to the head. However, the brain can be injured in case of severe trauma such as:

  • A strong blow to the head that causes the brain to forcefully impact the inner wall of the skull
  • Abrupt acceleration and deacceleration of the head that may be caused by a motor vehicular accident
  • Violent shaking of the head and neck
  • A blast injury

Symptoms of a Concussion

The symptoms may be immediate or delayed and can include:

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Headache
  • Dizziness
  • Confusion
  • Slurred speech
  • Sensitivity to light
  • Sleep pattern changes

Complications of Concussions

Some of the potential complications of a concussion injury include:

  • Post-traumatic headaches that may last for about 7 days
  • Post-traumatic vertigo that may continue for weeks and months after the injury
  • Post-concussion syndrome which is characterized by headaches, dizziness, and difficulty thinking clearly that lasts longer than 3 months after the injury
  • Rapid brain swelling which may occur if a second concussive injury occurs before full recovery from the initial injury

Diagnosis of Concussions

A diagnosis of a concussion may be made by your doctor based on:

  • Evaluation of your signs and symptoms
  • Review of medical history
  • Neurological examination, which includes testing vision, hearing, balance, coordination, strength, and sensation
  • Cognitive testing, which includes memory and concentration ability testing
  • Imagining tests such as a brain MRI or CT scan to look for signs of bleeding or other abnormalities within the brain
  • A period of observation at the hospital or home as signs and symptoms may develop after a few hours or days following the injury.

Treatment of Concussions

The treatment may involve the following measures:

  • Taking prescribed medications for symptomatic relief.
  • Getting plenty of sleep during the night as well as taking a nap during the day.
  • Refraining from activities that can stress your mind.
  • Refraining from sports or games that may worsen concussion symptoms.

Prevention of Concussions

The risk of sustaining a concussion may be reduced by the following measures:

  • Wearing a well-fitting helmet and other protective equipment while participating in sports or recreational activities.
  • Buckling your seatbelt when driving or riding in a motor vehicle
  • Keeping your home clutter-free and well-lit to prevent falls
  • Exercising regularly to improve mobility, strength, and balance

Sports Medicine &
Orthopaedic Centers
1230 Hospital Drive, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

Hours: Mon – Fri: 8:30 AM to 5:00 PM