Heads Up: Concussions
A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that affects your brain function. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination. Concussions are usually caused by a blow to the head. Violently shaking the head and upper body also can cause concussions. Some concussions cause you to lose consciousness, but most do not, so it's possible to have a concussion and not realize it. Concussions are particularly common if you play a contact sport, such as football. Most people usually recover fully after a concussion.
Causes of Concussions
Your brain has the consistency of gelatin. It's cushioned from everyday jolts and bumps by cerebrospinal fluid inside your skull. A violent blow to your head and neck or upper body can cause your brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the inner walls of your skull. Sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head, caused by events such as a car crash or being violently shaken, also can cause brain injury.
These injuries affect brain function, usually for a brief period, resulting in signs and symptoms of concussion. This type of brain injury may lead to bleeding in or around your brain, causing symptoms such as prolonged drowsiness and confusion. These symptoms may develop immediately or later.
Such bleeding in your brain can be fatal – that's why anyone who experiences a brain injury needs monitoring in the hours afterward and emergency care if symptoms worsen.
The signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not show up immediately. Symptoms can last for days, weeks or even longer. Common symptoms after a concussive traumatic brain injury are headache, loss of memory (amnesia) and confusion. The amnesia usually involves forgetting the event that caused the concussion.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion may include:
You may have some symptoms of concussions immediately. Others may be delayed for hours or days after injury, such as:
Head trauma is very common in young children. But concussions can be difficult to recognize in infants and toddlers because they can't describe how they feel. Concussion clues may include:
Seek emergency care for an adult or child who experiences a head injury and symptoms such as: