What is a concussion?

A concussion is not simply getting your “bell rung”. A concussion is a form of mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) and should be treated with the respect it deserves.

The CDC defines a concussion as:

“a TBI caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.”

A direct hit to the head is not required to suffer a concussion i.e., whiplash injuries in car accidents where the injured person’s head only rocks back and forth but does not come into contact with the windows or steering wheel.

This is an important fact to remember because the misnomer that a direct blow is required leads to many undiagnosed injuries per year!

Remember, <10% of concussions include a loss of consciousness! A loss of consciousness has no predictive value in the severity of a concussion and should not be used in grading scales or considered in the diagnosis or treatment of a mild traumatic brain injury.

Who gets a concussion?

Concussions are NOT just a sports injury.  Of the 5million annual concussions in the US, only 2.1million are related to sports!

Other causes of concussion:

  • Falls
  • Playground accidents
  • Motor vehicle accidents
  • Military incidents
  • Domestic violence
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When a concussion / mTBI occurs, the brain shears and rocks on itself like a jello mold in a Tupperware container.  This motion causes damage to the cells in the brain causing the cells to break apart and be unable to function. This term is referred to as Diffuse Axonal Injury. In a concussion there will not be any signs of damage on imaging, imaging is looking for more severe injuries such as a brain bleed or break in the skull bones (fracture).

The shearing forces in a concussion cause functional changes in your brain that can be mild or detrimental.  Therapies can assist with addressing these functional problems and return to you normal life!

Concussions should be taken seriously as we only get one brain in our lifetime! 

Treat yours well!

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How do I identify a concussion?

Signs and symptoms of a concussion vary widely among patients.  Sometimes, symptoms may not show up for up to 72 hours (3 days!) after the injury.

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Red Flags!

Immediate medical attention (Hospital or Urgent Care) should be sought for these symptoms.

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What to do if you think you’re concussed?

Complete serial observations of symptoms.

If worsening, seek medical care immediately.

Explore here for return to sport information.

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