With all the attention from the sports world being devoted to concussions lately we thought it might be a good idea to break down what happens to your head and body in the event of a concussion.
What happens to your brain?
A concussion, also referred to as a traumatic brain injury (TBI), is the result of your brain enduring an impact that was forceful enough to bruise and damage nerves endings in your brain. As you probably already know, your brain isn’t simply jammed in your skull; rather, it is floating in cerebrospinal fluid that cushions impact and bathes the brain in nutrients. If your brain was flush against your skull, even light blows to your head would result in a concussion.
Think back to physics class; as Newton’s laws of motion state: an object in motion tends to stay in motion unless it is acted upon by an external force. As your head collides with a solid surface your skull may stop traveling through space while your brain will be slightly behind and collide with the front of your skull. In more violent collisions your brain can actually bounce back to collide with the back of your head as well.
Symptoms and when to be concerned
While effects are usually temporary, concussions usually coincide with some or all of the following symptoms:
- Headache or feeling of pressure against skull
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- Inability to concentrate
- Memory loss
- Ringing in ears
- Nausea or vomiting
- Slurred speech
- Impaired judgment
- Lack of balance and coordination
Bumps to the head and mild concussions can be treated at home for adults; children should be taken into the clinic if they exhibit any of the symptoms above. Adults should come in if they’re experiencing any of the symptoms below:
- Loss of consciousness that lasts more than a minute
- Repeated vomiting
- Obvious difficulty with mental functions of physical coordination
- Symptoms worsen over time
Above all, rest is the best way to let your brain recover after a concussion. Avoid both physically and mentally strenuous activities for a while and take acetaminophen (Tylenol) for headaches. Try to steer clear of ibuprofen and aspirin due to the possibilities those have to increase bleeding.
If any symptoms are still present do not return to any kind of vigorous activity. If you, or your child, is an athlete it is strongly recommended to visit a doctor before returning to play even if no symptoms are present. If a second concussion occurs while the brain is still healing there is a risk of causing a potentially fatal brain injury with the second impact.