Authored by Revere Health

What is a Concussion?

December 27, 2016 | Neurology


Most people associate concussions with collision sports. While sports are a common cause, there are other ways to get a concussion. In fact, any trauma that shakes the brain in the skull can cause a concussion, and there are many incidents where this kind of impact is possible.

While some sports movies suggest otherwise, concussions can cause many immediate effects along with the long-term problems. They can be even more damaging for those who experience more than one concussion in their life.

Let’s find out a bit more about concussions – what causes them, their symptoms and how they’re treated.

What is a Concussion?

A concussion can occur any time the brain shakes in the skull. Spinal fluid around your brain is designed to protect it from impact, but if the impact is severe enough, your brain will feel the effects.

Concussions can range from mild to severe, depending on factors like the force of the trauma or the position of the head. Concussions can impact the way your brain functions, both in the short and long term.

For some mild concussions, people may only see limited symptoms, or none at all in some cases. Most concussions don’t require any major treatment other than rest, although the period for recovery can range from a couple hours to several weeks.

In more serious situations, though, concussions can lead to severe conditions. Permanent changes to brain activity are possible, and people who have a severe concussion or have experienced more than one concussion are at higher risk for permanent changes. These changes can impact everything from how you think to how you move and speak.

Concussion Symptoms

Symptoms of concussions can vary from case to case, and some people may not experience any at all. For those who do, some of the most common symptoms are:

  • Headache, dizziness, seeing stars
  • Confusion or memory loss
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Light and noise sensitivity
  • Big emotional swings
  • Sleep issues – oversleeping, insomnia or issues getting to sleep

Concussions can be even more serious for children, whose brains are still developing. Most concussion symptoms in children are similar to those for adults, and could have effects on their normal behavior- this is a good way to spot a concussion in children who might be too young to describe their symptoms. It’s recommended that you get your child checked out by a doctor any time they have a head trauma that might have caused a concussion.

Diagnosis and Treatment

Concussions should not be self-diagnosed, even if you’re certain you or someone else has one. A doctor’s examination is important – your doctor will ask a few questions to test your cognitive responses, and may do other brief exercises to check reflexes and balance.

If your doctor still isn’t sure, he or she may order certain tests – usually a CT scan or an MRI of the brain, which can pick up bleeding and bruising that sometimes shows up when you sustain a concussion.

Treatment of concussions is all about allowing the brain the time it needs to recover, and this can be different from person to person. Sometimes you’ll be symptom-free in a couple hours, and other times it will take weeks.

Treatment is centered around rest and avoiding things that might stress your brain. This includes drugs, alcohol, intense physical activity (your doctor can tell you which activities you’re approved for), driving and many others. Your doctor may recommend painkillers if your headaches are bad, but make sure to talk with your doctor about all medications you are taking or plan to take.

Revere Health Neurology specialists treat patients with a variety of neurological disorders.


The Live Better Team

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This information is not intended to replace the advice of a medical professional. You should always consult your doctor before making decisions about your health.