Mild concussions are common injuries for those who participate in activities where head injuries are likely. In many cases, this injury is not dangerous, but it will require medical attention and care to ensure that no excessive damage is done to the brain.
Definition and Risk Factors of Concussion
The term concussion is typically associated with an accident that caused the head or upper body to be violently shaken, such as a blow to the head. However, a concussion is technically the brain injury that results from these types of accidents. This type of brain injury can impact your concentration, memory, balance, judgment, coordination and can cause the patient to have troubles with headaches. A concussion will cause injury to the brain that will need time to mend. In many cases, these injuries are mild and the patient is capable of making a full recovery.
Several activities or circumstances make it more likely that a patient will suffer from sports, particularly in situations where there is not adequate safety equipment available. Soldiers involved in active combat are also at high risk for suffering from concussions.
Concussions are a common injury associated with motor vehicle accidents due to the high impact of these events. Children and seniors can suffer from concussions if they have a serious fall and hit their heads. Those who have had a concussion previously are also at a higher risk of suffering from a concussion again if they suffer an injury that impacts their heads.
Symptoms of Mild Concussion
After someone has suffered from a blow to the head or other similar injuries it is important to know the signs of a concussion so you can evaluate what type of medical attention this person might need.
- Headaches - One of the first symptoms that appear when someone is suffering from a concussion is a headache. The person may complain of a throbbing pain, or a heaviness that is similar to a migraine. In serious cases the person may lose consciousness for up to 30 minutes.
- Temporary Memory Loss - A person suffering from a concussion may also be confused or suffer from temporary memory loss. They may be confused about the events leading up to the accident or have trouble remembering what happened that caused them to become injured. This may lead to feelings of anxiety or distress as well.
- Dizziness - There may also be signs of dizziness or blurred vision shortly after a person has suffered a concussion. This can lead to nausea or a ringing in the ears as well, and in some cases the patient may slur their speech. People often describe this feeling as "seeing stars."
- Behavior Change -Sometime after the injury, patients may be irritable or cranky. Children may lose interest in their favorite toys or activities. This is often because those suffering from a concussion are sensitive to light and sound. It may take some time before the patient's balance fully recovers so they may be a bit unsteady on their feet. They may also suffer from sleep disturbances or have a change in their usual eating patterns while suffering from a concussion.
Diagnosis and Treatments
Once it has been determined that the patient is not suffering from any more severe injuries as a result of their accident, a medical professional can begin to determine whether or not the patient is suffering from a concussion. Your doctor will probably do a few examinations to check the reflexed, memory, vision, hearing, concentration, balance, coordination, strength or sensation to help determine the extent of the damage done to the brain. In some more serious cases the doctor may call for a CT scan to help ensure that there is not excessive bleeding or damage inside the skull.
If a mild concussion is diagnosed the patient will probably be prescribed medication to such as acetaminophen to help relieve their headache. Do not self-treat a concussion with other pain relievers such as aspirin because these can increase your risk of bleeding. Instead, if you are worried about swelling around the area where the injury occurred, treat the area with an ice pack.
It is essential to rest and allow your brain to recover after suffering from a concussion. Do not perform any activities that require a great deal of concentration until the symptoms of the concussion begin to fade. If your child has suffered from a concussion you may request that their teacher give them a lighter load at school until they are feeling better. Similarly, if your child suffered a concussion while playing sports, your doctor will give you a schedule regarding when it is safe for them to go back to playing.