A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury – TBI - caused by a bump, blow or injury to the head that causes your head and brain to move rapidly back and forth.
This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce and twist in the skull stretching and damaging the brain and causing chemical changes in the brain. These chemical changes make the brain more vulnerable to further injury. During this vulnerable time, the brain is more sensitive to stress.
A concussion may:
- Briefly "knock you out" OR
- Make you feel dazed OR
- Affect your ability to remember the event.
A concussion is not a “bruise to the brain.” The damage caused by a concussion may require additional neurological and cognitive testing (i.e. CT, MRI, neuropsychological evaluation, balance/vestibular assessment, cognitive testing). You should seek advice from healthcare professionals before you return to play in sports or return to daily activities such as work and school. Little Known Concussion Facts
Preventing a Concussion
- Most concussions occur without loss of consciousness.
- Those who have, at any point in their lives, had a concussion have an increased risk for another concussion.
- Young children and teens are more likely to get a concussion and take longer to recover than adults.
- Almost half a million ER visits for TBI are made by children aged 0 to 14 years.
- Adults aged 75 years or older have the highest rates of TBI-related hospitalization and death.
- More males than females sustain a TBI.
- Falls are the most common cause of traumatic brain injuries.
- Concussion can lead to depression in some people.
Concussion Protocols: What to Do?
- Wear a seat belt every time you are in a motor vehicle
- Never drive under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Wear a helmet when riding a bike, playing contact sports, skating / skateboarding, riding a horse, skiing / snowboarding
- Remove throw rugs and clutter from walk ways
- Install grab bars next to the toilet or in the tub / shower
- Keep stairs clear of clutter
- Install non-slip mats in the tub / shower
- Seek medical attention right away. A health care professional will be able to decide how serious the concussion is and when you can return to your normal activities.
- Rest. Concussions take time to heal. Resting is CRITICAL.
- Don’t go back to your normal activities until a health care professional says it’s OK. Those who return to their normal activities too quickly risk a greater chance of having a second concussion. Multiple concussions can cause permanent brain damage.
- The brain needs rest to heal. If you return to school / work / recreational activities, that means there is less energy available to help the brain repair itself.
- Even "non-stressful" activities such as reading, playing video games, watching TV, or even texting can tax the brain and delay recovery.
- Get 6 to 8 hours of sleep. Sleep is key to your recovery.
- Drink plenty of water.
- Follow your health care professional’s instructions and be honest about your symptoms.
- Avoid alcohol and drug use (slows down your recovery).
- Avoid caffeine and energy drinks (may interfere with sleep).
- Avoid sleeping aids and sedatives unless your health care professional advises you to take them.
- Return slowly and gradually to your routine.
- Avoid activities that are physically demanding or require a lot of concentration.