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Concussions

A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury. Although most concussions are the result of trauma from a blow to the head, it doesn’t necessitate a blow to the head to suffer one. A sudden acceleration-deceleration injury like whiplash in a car accident can cause a concussion. The fluid in the skull that surrounds a person’s brain serves as a cushion for it, but as a result of a sudden and traumatic event, the brain can be caused to crash into the skull and become injured.

Avoid repeat concussions while recovering
Some people suffering from a concussion show no visible or objective signs of a head injury. Many people don’t even get rendered unconscious. Recovery time could be as short as a day or two or longer than a month or two.

What’s important is that during the recovery period, the brain is prone to easily being injured again. All activities that can re-injure the brain must be avoided because repeated concussions can result in serious and permanent issues.

Some common causes of concussions
Injuries from both routine and recreational activities can result in a concussion. Crime victims also suffer them, but the most common causes of concussions are:

This is what happens to your brain
When the brain impacts with the skull, it can get bruised. Because it can bounce from side to side or end to end, bruising might result on more than one side of the brain when it’s thrust back into position. Its nerve tissue shears, and it gets stretched and torn. The brain also responds to the trauma with a chemical reaction. In turn, the function of nerve cells is impaired, and that can contribute to being knocked out. The brain doesn’t recover well from shearing, and some nerve cells might lose their ability to send signals forever. Blood flow to the bruised area of the brain is also impaired, so delivery of oxygen is reduced. That affects recovery too.

Concussion symptoms
A wide variety of symptoms might be experienced by a concussion victim, but some of the more common symptoms include:

  • Headaches
  • Dizziness
  • Insomnia
  • Inability to concentrate
  • Loss of memory
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Double or blurred vision

Diagnosis of concussions
Aside from asking detailed questions about how the injury occurred, a doctor might ask a concussion victim a series of questions to check their attention span and their ability to learn and remember things. Then the victim’s balance, coordination, reflexes and strength might be briefly tested. In more serious cases, detailed diagnostics might be ordered that could involve a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging to look for bruising or bleeding.

Grades of concussions
Concussions are classified according to grades. A grade 1 concussion is mild. The victim doesn’t lose consciousness, but he or she might have difficulty thinking clearly. Symptoms last for 15 minutes or less. A grade 2 concussion is moderate with the same confusion and no loss of consciousness. Symptoms will last for more than 15 minutes. With a grade 3 concussion, victims are knocked out for seconds or up to five minutes. Upon awakening, they experience profound confusion or simply stare into space. They’ll be slow to reply to conversation, and even movement might seem slow and uncoordinated.

Treating a concussion
Most concussions are treated at home with rest and Advil or Tylenol. Avoid aspirin. It could be dangerous. To avoid the risk of a second concussion on top of the first, victims should avoid all sports or strenuous activities until they’ve been released by their doctor to do so. Surgery might be required if the victim’s brain is bleeding or has swelling.

The second concussion
A person who suffers a second concussion while still recovering from their first can experience severe neurological issues. The second concussion is likely to impede recovery from the first, so recovery from more than one concussion can take much longer. Everybody’s brain is different, but after enough concussions, it’s unlikely that nerves will fully recover. That means permanent brain damage.

The vast majority of people recover from concussions within days or weeks. It might take months for some people, and then there are the others who are affected for life. Get examined by a doctor quickly if you’ve suffered blunt trauma to the head or a whiplash injury, and you exhibit symptoms of a concussion. Take the injury seriously. You don’t want a second concussion on top of the first. You’ll be putting your future in jeopardy.

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