WHAT HAPPENS WHEN YOU HAVE A CONCUSSION?
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head, or to the body, that causes the brain to move quickly back and forth and subsequently disrupts its normal function. This disturbance of brain function often does NOT result in loss of consciousness and WILL NOT be evident on CTscan or MRI. Instead, the neuronal dysfunction often manifests in poor memory skills and slow cognitive speed (thought processing, eye-hand coordination, and reaction times).
The CDC (www.cdc.gov/concussion) organizes the symptoms of concussion into four categories:
|Thinking / Memory||Physical||Emotional / Mood||Sleep|
|Difficulty thinking clearly||HeadacheFuzzy or blurry vision||Irritability||Sleeping more than usual|
|Feeling slowed down||Nausea or vomiting
|Sadness||Sleep less than usual|
|Difficulty concentrating||Sensitivity to noise or light
|More emotional||Trouble falling asleep|
|Difficulty remembering new information||Feeling tired, having no energy||Nervousness or anxiety|
Because children and teens often present with delayed symptoms (days to weeks after the injury) it is imperative to initiate cognitive rest until the patient is thoroughly evaluated in follow-up. In addition, children and teens with concussions often take longer to recover (weeks to months after the injury), requiring modifications of their academic activities as well as supervision of their readiness to return to physical activities.
Head injuries take time to heal. Often, however, concussion in children goes unrecognized. Another blow to the head while the initial concussion is healing can occasionally result in fatal brain swelling — a condition known as second impact syndrome.
A young athlete who sustains a concussion is also at risk of developing post-concussion syndrome, which is characterized by persistent concussion symptoms such as headaches, dizziness, irritability and depression. Post-concussion syndrome can last for weeks to months after the injury.