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What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild traumatic brain injury that can be sustained in a fall, car accident, sports-related impact or assault. If a sudden blow to the head or body causes the head to jolt back and forth very rapidly, the brain can actually “bounce” within the skull. In other words, the brain can strike the skull once on impact, and again at the opposite side on rebound. This can cause chemical changes to occur in certain brain cells, which may temporarily impair their function. While a concussion is usually not a life-threatening condition, its cognitive effects can be serious.

How to recognize a concussion

A concussion does not always cause a loss of consciousness. Following a blow to the head or body, there are three hallmark signs of a concussion to watch for: (1) a temporary feeling of confusion, disorientation or “fogginess,” (2) an inability to recall the injury and what led up to it and (3) an inability to remember what happened immediately after the injury. These signs may also be accompanied by:

  • Headache
  • Nausea
  • Anxiety
  • Drowsiness
  • Dizziness or vertigo
  • Coordination or balance problems
  • Slurred speech
  • Irritability and other personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light or noise
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Difficulty falling asleep
  • Sleeping longer than usual

If a concussion is suspected, the individual should not return to physical activity until evaluated and cleared by a medical professional.

Treatments for a concussion

If a concussion is confirmed – and bleeding, swelling and other complications are ruled out – the injury may resolve on its own within several weeks without medical treatment. However, a sufficient amount of rest — both physical and cognitive — will be required to restore the delicate chemical balance among the brain cells. Until recovery is complete, the brain will remain highly susceptible to re-injury.

At Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston, TX, our sports medicine team is ImPACT Certified for concussion management. After performing an in-depth assessment of a head injury, we can determine the amount of time required to allow for a full recovery from a concussion. We can also identify any post-concussion issues that may require intervention.

If you’d like to consult with a physician who is experienced in diagnosing and treating concussions, contact Advanced Orthopaedics & Sports Medicine of Houston to request an appointment today.