An Uncommon Occurrence of Concussion - Hillary Clinton

Patient Expert

Some of you may be wondering what the relationship is between Mrs. Clinton's recent concussion and Migraine. We know during a Migraine attack, some of us experience dizziness. Many people also get dizzy when they have the flu, a stomach virus or even a cold. Mrs. Clinton's concussion reminds us to be careful when we feel dizzy, rise slowly from a sitting position, don't switch positions too quickly, hold something for support when walking and stay well hydrated.

In early December Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton suffered the ill effects of a stomach bug, fainted and fell sustaining a concussion. It seems Mrs. Clinton became dehydrated due to the virus and hit her head which then lead to the concussion. This episode is of concern because Mrs. Clinton had a similar issue with a stomach bug and collapsing before. In 2005, while a U.S. senator (D- N.Y.) Clinton was giving a speech in Buffalo, New York when she fainted after subsequently mentioning having a stomach virus.

During one of Mrs. Clinton's follow up exams, doctors found a blood clot - a transverse sinus thrombosis - located behind her right ear in a spot in a vein amid the brain and skull. Luckily she has not had a stroke or suffered any neurological issues from this clot which, like any blood clot can be life threatening. Mrs. Clinton has been released from the hospital and is expected to make a full recovery.

Concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury (TBI) that occurs when the head receives a blow, hit or jolt, or object penetrates it and alters the way the brain regularly functions. Concussions can also be sustained from a fall or when the head rapidly moves back and forth causing shearing of neurons, tendons and other soft tissue.  Most people recover from a TBI with no lasting effects while others suffer lifelong complications. Blood clots are not common after sustaining such an injury, but can occur after any type of head injury.  A few years ago  Natasha Richardson  suffered a TBI in a skiing accident and felt fine afterwards. Unfortunately 48 hours later she died from an epidural hematoma.

Many times we tend to think concussions are caused mainly by sports injuries or motor vehicle accidents. TBI's however, can occur from biking, skateboarding, skiing, and horseback riding accidents. Mrs. Clinton's concussion didn't occur from any of those, rather she was ill with a stomach bug, became dehydrated and was dizzy. Apparently her dizziness contributed to her fall, when she then sustained a concussion - not a common occurrence.

If you think you've sustained a concussion or are not certain after you've hit your head, please contact your doctor as soon as possible. An important fact to remember is that it's not necessary to lose consciousness in order to sustain a concussion. Most people will recover from a concussion without complications but there are a few things to keep in mind during the recovery process:

  • The recovery process may be slow going - don't try to hurry it along. The brain needs to heal after a concussion or TBI - no cognitive or visual stimulation - no TV, texting, video games, and maybe even no school or work; nothing that taxes the brain, it needs complete rest.
  • According to a recent study, children and girls seem to take longer to recover after a concussion. If you feel you or your child's recovery is not going well, please consult the doctor and go over the treatment plan.
  • You may feel a dizzy, confused, and fatigued and not be sleeping well after a concussion - these are a few typical symptoms. Make sure you are getting enough sleep and rest throughout the day, your brain is trying to heal.
  • Be vigilant about changes in your behavior or symptoms. Contact your doctor right away if you become more confused, agitated, there is a change in your mental status, or you have difficulty with your speech and/or body movements and/or your headache becomes worse.

Mrs. Clinton is getting the best care possible and we've been told she will be fine. She is very lucky, the outcome could have been much different seeing as she was home alone when she fell and hit her head. Godspeed, Mrs. Clinton.


Puniewska, Maggie. "Hillary Clinton's Concussion: 6 Head Injury Treatment Tips." Health, January 4, 2013.

Mitchell, Andrea. "Hillary Clinton recovering after fainting, suffering a concussion." U.S. News on January 8, 2013.

Szabo, Liz. "Hillary Clinton getting blood thinners for clot." USA Today. January 1, 2013.

Photo: National Institutes of Health. Center for Neuroscience and Regenerative Medicine.

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© HealthCentral Network, 2013. Last updated January 8, 2013.