The national conversation about concussions – rightfully – continues to increase in volume.
A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI) that usually results from trauma or an external force acting on the head.
The term itself refers to the effects that may develop in patients after they sustain a head injury. Symptoms are usually prominent enough that it's evident to the patient or those around them that a concussion may have occurred.
In most cases, one concussion will not cause permanent brain damage. However, it increases the risk that any additional concussions may impact brain health. Trauma to the head makes the state and function of the human brain more fragile.
Common Concussion Symptoms
With a concussion, any blunt force or trauma to the head can impair our cognitive skills, including memory, judgement, and speech. It may also affect motor skills and muscle coordination, which could be demonstrated through changes in reflexes and balance.
Someone who has sustained a concussion may be stereotypically "dazed and confused" – having trouble answering basic questions or recalling the event that led to the injury.
Other signs of a concussion include:
- Nausea or vomiting
- Increased sensitivity to light
- Headache that won't subside
- Loss of balance
Concussion Risk Factors
Though some precautions can be taken to prevent a concussion from occurring, other risk factors are simply repercussions of playing a sport or leading an active lifestyle.
Certainly, sports and recreational activities put players at an increased risk for concussions. Full contact sports, like football or ice hockey, have rules that allow tackling and checking as part of the game. Players can and should take action by wearing the recommended protective equipment, such as a proper-fitting helmet.
Unfortunately, there are other events outside of sports that can put patients at an increased risk for a concussion. A bad trip and fall where you happen to hit your head on the way down is one example. Concussions are also a potential side effect for those who have been in a fairly traumatic car accident.