Concussion – A Medical Emergency

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Pliro
Written by Pliro
Jan 18, 2018 Last updated: Jan 18, 2018
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Mild Traumatic Brain Injury (MTBI), as the name suggests, is an injury to the brain also often known as ‘concussion’. It is an injury to the brain caused by a trauma like a blow to the head or body, a fall, or another injury. The injury jars or shakes the brain inside the skull, leading to loss of brain function. The loss of brain function may be temporary, with symptoms lasting for 7 to 10 days. In certain severe concussions, symptoms can linger on for weeks or even months, due to a complication called post-concussion syndrome.

What Causes a Concussion?

Motor vehicle collisions, falls, sports injuries, and bicycle accidents can all be causes. Risk factors include drinking alcohol. The mechanism involves a direct blow to the head or forces elsewhere on the body that is transmitted to the head. The injured neurons require an increased glucose demand, but the blood supply to the brain isn’t sufficient enough to fulfill the demand.

Did You Know?

Concussions in adolescents are on the rise. Realization of benefits of exercise in youth has led to a recent promotion of exercise and sports. Participation in sports can be responsible for the rising incidence of concussions in this age group. However, this should not be a reason for quitting sports. Proper measures for prevention and diagnosis should be taken in order to avoid an incident or treat someone.

Symptoms

Some of the common symptoms are headache, dizziness, vomiting, nausea, lack of motor coordination and difficulty balancing. Visual symptoms like light sensitivity and double vision can occur. Ringing in the ear is also common.

Some of the other signs are confusion, disorientation, and difficulty focusing attention. Loss of consciousness may occur depending upon the severity. Concussions can result in mood changes like crankiness and loss of interest in favorite activities.

Concussion in Children

Head bumps and injuries are common in children. In infants it is very hard to tell a concussion, so we rely on the clinical presentation. Symptoms like loss of consciousness, signs like crying inconsolably and not being able to be comforted, vomiting, or somnolence. Refusal to eat, prolonged irritability, or unusual or prolonged periods of inactivity should raise suspicion of a concussion in children.

Diagnosis

A concussion is generally diagnosed clinically in the hospital through brain imaging and by identifying the brain injury on the films.

Treatment options

Rest with adequate night-time sleep is mandatory. A doctor may often prescribe medication for pain relief, sleep problems and depression caused by a concussion.

Prevention

Measures like wearing seat belts, using airbags in cars can be helpful. Older people are advised to reduce their chances of falling by wearing thin, flat, shoes with hard soles that do not interfere with balance. Athletes can use headgear. Improvement in the helmet design also reduces the risk of concussion.

Because millions of people a year are diagnosed with this kind of brain injury, there are some universal recovery tips that should be followed. Just like the causes of concussion vary, so do their levels of severity. You should always consult a doctor in such a situation.

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