Concussion - The Basics

by Teri Robert, Lead Expert

We're hearing quite a bit in the news about concussion, a condition that's related to Migraine and headaches, especially as it relates to both professional and high school athletes. Since there are some misconceptions about concussion, including that you have to hit your head to have a concussion and that you have to lose consciousness to have a concussion, it's time to take a look at the basics of concussion.

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussions can also occur from a fall or blow to the body that causes the head and grain to move back and forth quickly. Concussion cal occur without loss of consciousness also. Doctors may describe a concussion as a "mild" brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Still, the effects of concussions can be quite serious.

Signs and symptoms of concussion:

Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully. However, for some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer. In general, recovery may be slower among older adults, young children, and teens. Those who have had a concussion in the past are also at risk of having another one and may find that it takes longer to recover if they have another concussion. Symptoms of concussion usually fall into four categories:

  1. Thinking / Remembering
    1. Difficulty thinking clearly
    2. Feeling slowed down
    3. Difficulty concentrating
    4. Difficulty remembering new information
    5. Altered level of consciousness
    6. Loss of consciousness
    7. Memory loss, amnesia
  2. Physical
    1. Headache
    2. Fuzzy or blurry vision
    3. Nausea or vomiting (early on)
    4. Dizziness
    5. Sensitivity to  noise or light
    6. Balance problems
    7. Fatigue
  3. Sleep
    1. Sleeping more than usual
    2. Sleeping less than usual
    3. Trouble falling asleep

These are symptoms of a concussion that indicate an emergency situation and that immediate medical care should be sought:

  • Changes in alertness and consciousness
  • Convulsions (seizures)
  • Muscle weakness on one or both sides
  • Persistent confusion
  • Persistent unconsciousness (coma)
  • Repeated vomiting
  • Unequal pupils
  • Unusual eye movements
  • Walking problems
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