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What is the Connection Between Brain Injury and a Concussion?

Nicole Long
Nicole Long

A concussion is a form of brain injury. Concussions occur from a sudden blow to the head as a result of an accident, fall, or sports injury. When the brain is forced against the hard surface of the skull, bleeding and tearing of the nerve fibers can occur, leading to brain injury and a concussion. This results in common concussion symptoms including confusion, headache, and dizziness.

Various traumas cause a brain injury and a concussion. Car accidents resulting in blunt trauma to the head are a primary cause. Falls involving hitting the head on either the ground or a stationery object can lead to brain injury and a concussion. Football players and other athletes can sustain a concussion after a collision during practice or sporting events. Infants can suffer concussions if they are shaken.

Football players have a higher risk of concussion and other brain injuries.
Football players have a higher risk of concussion and other brain injuries.

The symptoms of a brain injury and a concussion can include problems with thinking and memory processes. Confusion and memory loss are the most common symptoms those suffering from a concussion experience. Typically, those that suffer memory loss don’t remember the actual event resulting in the concussion. In addition, concentration problems can last up to several days after the initial impact. Other symptoms include nausea and seeing flashing lights.

An MRI scan of the head may be used to help determine the severity of a brain injury.
An MRI scan of the head may be used to help determine the severity of a brain injury.

All symptoms of a possible brain injury and a concussion should be reported to a physician, and several signs signal a medical emergency. Those who lose consciousness, experience seizures, or have unusual eye movements need medical attention. Other serious signs include repeated vomiting and muscle weakness.

Those demonstrating severe signs of a brain injury, including a concussion, should remain still until they can be assessed by a medical professional. This can be an athletic trainer during sporting events, or emergency medical personnel on the scene of a fall or accident. If the concussion is associated with a neck or spine injury, movement of the patient can cause irreversible damage, including paralysis.

Confusion is one symptom of a cerebral concussion.
Confusion is one symptom of a cerebral concussion.

Testing to determine the severity of the concussion and any associated brain damage will include multiple exams. A neurological exam will test for balance, vision, and reflex issues. Imaging tests, including a CT scan or magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) test, will provide the physician with images of the brain. These images can help diagnose any additional problems or conditions beyond a possible concussion.

Luckily, most concussions are minor and do not cause lasting brain injury.
Luckily, most concussions are minor and do not cause lasting brain injury.

Recovery will aim to treat symptoms and allow the brain to heal. Rest and acetaminophen will help those suffering from a concussion. Aspirin and ibuprofen products should be avoided, as these can increase bleeding risks associated with a brain injury. Return to activity, especially sports, will need to be addressed by a physician. Experiencing a second concussion too soon can lead to permanent brain damage and even death.

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    • Football players have a higher risk of concussion and other brain injuries.
      By: Pete Saloutos
      Football players have a higher risk of concussion and other brain injuries.
    • An MRI scan of the head may be used to help determine the severity of a brain injury.
      By: Marcin Sadlowski
      An MRI scan of the head may be used to help determine the severity of a brain injury.
    • Confusion is one symptom of a cerebral concussion.
      By: chuugo
      Confusion is one symptom of a cerebral concussion.
    • Luckily, most concussions are minor and do not cause lasting brain injury.
      By: seraphic06
      Luckily, most concussions are minor and do not cause lasting brain injury.
    • Brain damage can be a potentially devastating medical issue.
      By: Tyler Olson
      Brain damage can be a potentially devastating medical issue.
    • Damage to the brain's right hemisphere can have a detrimental effect on memory and other critical cognitive skills.
      By: WavebreakmediaMicro
      Damage to the brain's right hemisphere can have a detrimental effect on memory and other critical cognitive skills.