A concussion is most often the result of mechanical trauma, and its effects are not permanent. Its symptoms can stay for several days, much less often for weeks or months. A medical consultation is necessary for the diagnosis of concussion, and the treatment is conservative. A concussion is a mild consequence of a brain injury. It belongs to the group of light brain injuries, which constitute about 80% of all traumatic brain injuries.

A concussion occurs as a result of a head injury. It is a brain stem disorder, but without significant anatomical changes; this is a post-traumatic loss of consciousness, after regaining which the patient returns to full life. If the loss of consciousness is longer than 15 minutes, or there are any disturbing symptoms, then most likely, the injury was more severe and could have more serious consequences than a concussion. Besides, the patient usually does not remember the moment of the incident and the loss of consciousness. A concussion can be caused by direct head trauma but also by trauma resulting from the sudden acceleration and slowing of the head movement (e.g. as a result of a car accident with a driver wearing seat belts).

It must not always be serious, but it should not be underestimated. How do you know if you have a concussion?

How does a concussion happen?

A concussion occurs most often after mechanical head injuries, mainly in traffic accidents following a collision, sudden braking, or acceleration. Concussions also appear as a result of sports such as skiing, boxing, football, or hockey. A common symptom is loss of consciousness, usually temporary, accompanied by a loss of memory for some time.

A concussion is one type of head injury in which parts of the brain are damaged or destroyed. Depending on the degree of damage, we can distinguish:

  • concussion (there are only temporary disturbances in the brain tissue);
  • brain contusion (here there is extensive swelling of the brain);
  • brain injury (in this case, there is a disruption of the brain tissue, necrosis, and hemorrhage).

A concussion is most often the result of a head injury or loss of consciousness because of an accident. There is disruption of the nerve cells caused by a blow to the head, but it does not cause permanent damage to them.

If the concussion occurred due to hitting a hard surface (for example, the floor or a bathtub) and you are still unconscious, contact your doctor and follow their advice. Perhaps home treatment will be enough. However, if the injury is due to a high fall, the patient is bleeding, unconscious for more than two minutes, or alternately recovers and collapses, an ambulance must be called immediately.

The primary way to prevent concussions is to avoid head injuries. However, being aware of unpredictable situations, in practice, is down to reducing the effects of a head injury, which means using head protection equipment (helmets) during sports such as cycling, roller skating, skiing, or snowboarding. It is also crucial to wear a seat belt when driving a car.

Concussion symptoms

For both a child and an adult, the symptoms of concussion may be similar. But in practice, symptoms are less specific in infants and young children. Common symptoms of concussion diagnosis include:

  • retrograde memory disorders related to the circumstances of the accident,
  • entanglement,
  • loss of consciousness for up to an hour,
  • speech disorders,
  • nausea and vomiting,
  • dizziness and headaches,
  • fatigue,
  • photophobia,
  • hypersensitivity to noise,
  • problem with concentration,
  • personality disorder.

How long does it take for a concussion to appear? The time it takes for concussion symptoms to appear varies greatly. Symptoms can reappear multiple times after the injury, and they can show up with significant delay in the form of depression, sleep problems, irritability, or learning difficulties.

Symptoms occurring later include disturbance in concentration and memory, increased sensitivity to noise and light or irritability and other personality disorders, sleep disorders, depression, learning problems, smell and taste disturbances. Headaches and dizziness may occur up to several months after a concussion.

What causes a concussion is the temporary shutdown of the nerve pathways responsible for stimulating the thalamus and cerebral cortex and maintaining consciousness. Under normal conditions, the so-called ascending reticular system. Due to the trauma, there is a temporary disruption of its function.

If you have had a head injury and, as a result of the impact, you have lost consciousness with retrograde amnesia, you must see a doctor promptly in an emergency department or by calling an ambulance. In order to eliminate possible serious, post-traumatic complications, it is necessary to perform examinations (X-ray of the head, computed tomography of the head, or magnetic resonance imaging). In the case of infants, when this type of diagnosis is quite difficult, the basis is ultrasound, which can visualize all kinds of bleeding or abnormalities. They are made through the front-end covers, which are not yet overgrown in the youngest patients.

What treatment is required for concussions?

treatment of concussions

When a concussion is suspected, first aid should consist of assessing whether the victim is conscious and checking vital signs (breathing, pulse). Avoid moving your head and stay still until help arrives. 

Treatment is based on rest, which involves staying at home or, if this is the doctor’s decision, in hospital. Physical activity should be avoided – both physical work and sports. It is also advisable to limit mental activity (e.g. learning) and limit the number of external stimuli, especially those provided by audiovisual devices such as TV, computer, and loud music. Even if the head injury has not led to symptoms requiring medical attention, all forms of physical and intellectual activity should be ceased on the day of the injury.

In addition, in the event of a severe headache, the doctor will prescribe painkillers, most often paracetamol. Drugs that increase the risk of bleeding, that interfere with blood clotting, such as acetylsalicylic acid, should be avoided.

Most often, the symptoms of concussion pass spontaneously; however, sometimes, the post-shock syndrome develops. It causes headaches, dizziness, and problems with concentration and memory. These symptoms can last for weeks after the injury. A serious complication of concussion may be bleeding into the space between the brain and the dura mater.

It is worth remembering that each shock of the brain increases the risk of suffering further in the future. Therefore, after this injury, doctors advise against engaging in contact sports and avoiding potentially dangerous situations.

  • How does a concussion happen?

    A concussion occurs most often after mechanical head injuries, mainly in traffic accidents following a collision, sudden braking, or acceleration. Concussions also appear as a result of sports such as skiing, boxing, football, or hockey. A common symptom is loss of consciousness, usually temporary, accompanied by a loss of memory for some time. A concussion is one type of head injury in which parts of the brain are damaged or destroyed. Depending on the degree of damage, we can distinguish: concussion (there are only temporary disturbances in the brain tissue); brain contusion (here there is extensive swelling of the brain); brain injury (in this case, there is a disruption of the brain tissue, necrosis, and hemorrhage).
  • What treatment is required for concussions?

    When a concussion is suspected, first aid should consist of assessing whether the victim is conscious and checking vital signs (breathing, pulse). Avoid moving your head and stay still until help arrives. Treatment is based on rest, which involves staying at home or, if this is the doctor’s decision, in hospital. Physical activity should be avoided – both physical work and sports. It is also advisable to limit mental activity (e.g. learning) and limit the number of external stimuli, especially those provided by audiovisual devices such as TV, computer, and loud music. Even if the head injury has not led to symptoms requiring medical attention, all forms of physical and intellectual activity should be ceased on the day of the injury.