CONCUSSIONS

What Is a Concussion?

The medical term “Concussion” or mild traumatic brain injury, refers to a head injury that temporarily affects brain function (Olson, Ellis, Selci, & Russell, 2020). This clinical condition causes an acute and transitory change in brain function, including changes in mental state or degree of consciousness, caused by mechanical force or trauma. Some people may experience memory and concentration issues, mood fluctuations, personality changes, headache, tiredness, dizziness, sleeplessness, and excessive sleepiness for several weeks to months after a concussion. Patients suffering from post-concussion syndrome should avoid engaging in activities that put them in danger of another concussion. While suffering these symptoms, athletes should not return to play. In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reported 2.87 million traumatic brain injury-related emergency department visits, hospitalizations, and fatalities in the United States (Purcell, Kissick, & Rizos, 2013). TBI also affects around 800,000 children in the United States each year. People over the age of 75, children aged 0-4 years, and people aged 15-24 years reported the highest prevalence of TBI (Kimbler, Murphy, & Dhandapani, 2011).

What Are the Common Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion?

The signs and symptoms of concussions vary between individuals and can include memory loss, loss of consciousness, headaches, trouble thinking, concentration, or balance, nausea, blurred vision, sleep difficulties, and mood swings. These symptoms might arise right after an accident or days afterward. If a person strikes their head, either indirectly or directly, and exhibits any of the concussion symptoms, a concussion can occur. Prolonged or persistent concussion symptoms, also known as post-concussion syndrome, affect up to one-third of persons who develop a concussion. Symptoms in adults can persist up to two weeks, and in children, up to four weeks (Currie, Comstock, Fields, & Cantu, 2017). 

Soft tissue makes up the brain, and the skull protects it. A hit to the head might cause the brain to jolt. This can make it physically move about in the skull. Bruising, blood vessel damage, short-term paralysis, and nerve injury can all occur because of a traumatic brain injury. Direct head trauma, such as falling, receiving a strike, or suffering a car accident, can cause concussions. These can also happen due to abrupt head acceleration and deceleration, such as whiplash or explosion injuries in a combat zone. Many individuals believe that concussions cause them to drop out or lose consciousness. Risk factors for a concussion include the previous history of concussion and drinking alcohol. Children’s sports-related injuries account for less than 10% of all concussions. Concussions may raise the risk of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Parkinson’s disease, and depression later in life.

How Do Spinal Specialists Diagnose Concussions?

Following a concussion, most people recover swiftly. Some people may experience symptoms for several weeks before progressively improving. Therefore, patients need to seek immediate medical attention if the headache persists for a long time, a seizure occurs, nausea and vomiting develop, difficulties in speech occur, etc. Initial diagnosis of concussion requires a thorough evaluation by a spinal specialist, where neurosurgeons ask a variety of questions regarding the injury, duration, and location of symptoms. To rule out moderate or severe traumatic brain injuries, neurosurgeons use a Glasgow coma scale score of 13 to 15, loss of consciousness for less than 30 minutes, and memory loss for less than 24 hours (Wallace, Covassin, Nogle, Gould, & Kovan, 2017). Neurosurgeons perform coordination and reflex tests to observe the function of the central nervous system and ask questions to evaluate the memory of the patient. To detect any fractures in the skull, neurosurgeons may also perform CT scans or MRIs.

How Do Spinal Specialists Treat Concussions?

Symptoms of concussion can impact people in a number of ways, including eyesight, balance, and even mood. The standard treatment for concussion in the past includes plenty of rest. Recent treatments, on the other hand, include therapy aimed at particular symptoms. The procedure includes:

  1. Observation and rest: Following a concussion, neurosurgeons suggest patients undergo complete rest for the next 24-48 hours for observation. 
  2. Medications: Neurosurgeons prescribe medications to treat seizures, headaches, depression, and sleep problems.

Most children and adults recover entirely from concussions, although some may require more time. The patient’s recovery depends upon the age, the severity of the injury, degree of concussion, surrounding environment, immediate treatment support, intellectual abilities, etc. Poor health conditions, drug abuse, unhealthy lifestyle, depression, etc. can prolong the recovery process. Wearing seat belts, employing airbags in automobiles, and wearing protective equipment such as helmets for high-risk sports may help to prevent mild traumatic brain injuries. Older individuals need to keep their floors clear of debris and wear thin, flat shoes with rigid bottoms to avoid interfering with their balance to lower their risk of falling. Diverse groups, particularly child athletes and coaches, can benefit from educational interventions such as handouts, movies, seminars, and lectures. Strong concussion awareness helps to increase the detection of concussion symptoms and lowers the risk of mild traumatic brain injuries. Neurosurgeons advise exercising regularly to strengthen the leg muscles and improve overall balance. For more information, please contact us.

References

Currie, D. W., Comstock, R. D., Fields, S. K., & Cantu, R. C. (2017). A paired comparison of initial and recurrent concussions sustained by US high school athletes within a single athletic season. Journal of Head Trauma Rehabilitation, 32(2), 90–97. https://doi.org/10.1097/HTR.0000000000000240

Kimbler, D. E., Murphy, M., & Dhandapani, K. M. (2011). Concussion and the adolescent athlete. Journal of Neuroscience Nursing, 43(6), 286–290. https://doi.org/10.1097/JNN.0b013e31823858a6

Olson, A., Ellis, M. J., Selci, E., & Russell, K. (2020). Delayed Symptom Onset Following Pediatric Sport-Related Concussion. Frontiers in Neurology, 11(April), 1–8. https://doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2020.00220

Purcell, L., Kissick, J., & Rizos, J. (2013). Concussion. Cmaj, 185(11), 981. https://doi.org/10.1503/cmaj.120511

Wallace, J., Covassin, T., Nogle, S., Gould, D., & Kovan, J. (2017). Knowledge of concussion and reporting behaviors in high school athletes with or without access to an athletic trainer. Journal of Athletic Training, 52(3), 228–235. https://doi.org/10.4085/1062-6050-52.1.07