Concussion: Symptoms and Treatment


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What is a concussion?

A concussion is a mild traumatic head injury caused by a fall, a jolt, or a blow to the head. Concussions are very common among sportspersons such as footballers and athletes. The effects of a concussion can be short-term, lasting only a few hours or a couple of days, or can be long-term, lasting for months or even years.

A few serious effects of concussion include loss of memory, problems with balance and coordination, and even coma. 

Please Note: Concussion requires emergency care and immediate medical attention. 

How does concussion occur?

Concussions can be caused by car crashes, bike accidents, accidents while playing any sport, falling down, fights, blow to the head, and so on. Our brains are very soft like gelatin, and this organ is protected every day from sudden jolts and bumps by the cerebrospinal fluid inside the skull. 

While experiencing a blow or a sudden jolt, the brain moves rapidly back and forth in a whiplash-like fashion. It bounces and twists inside the skull. This can stretch and damage the delicate cells and structures forming the brain.  

The damage can not only cause physical changes to the brain, but also chemical changes. Chemical changes to the brain can in turn affect the functions of the brain. 

If sudden bleeding occurs in the brain, due to the injury it can be fatal to the person. 

Any person who suffers from concussion needs emergency care and immediate medical attention. He needs to be under observation for as many days as the doctor deems fit. 

The concussion recovery time varies from patient to patient, depending on the seriousness of the injury. 

The average time to recover from a mild concussion is around 20 to 50 days, provided the patient is completely at rest and does not do anything including, reading, or watching T.V.

Serious cases, such as those where the patient suffered from Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) can take much more time to heal and may also require rehabilitative care. 

Who is prone to concussion?

Those who are more prone to concussion than others include:

  • people younger than 24 and people older than 75 are at the greatest risk for concussion
  • newborn babies and children up to 14 years of age
  • athletes and sportspersons
  • people who engage in risky behaviours, such as drinking and driving
  • people who ride a bike without wearing a helmet
  • people who do not wear seat belts while in a car

What are the causes of concussion?

Some very common causes of concussion include:

  • fights
  • falls
  • playground injuries
  • car crashes
  • bike accidents

Some sports which can cause concussion are:

  • football
  • boxing
  • hockey
  • soccer
  • skiing
  • snowboarding

What is post-concussion syndrome? What are the symptoms of concussion?

The post-concussion syndrome also known as also known as a postconcussive syndrome (PCS) is a set of various symptoms, such as headaches, dizziness, ringing in the ears, that can last for weeks and even months to a year after the concussion occurs.

The signs of concussion or the post-concussion symptoms include:

These symptoms may start immediately after the injury or may appear more gradually, after weeks or even months. 

How is concussion diagnosed?

If you notice any symptoms of concussion in someone, immediately take that person to a general practitioner. Depending on the severity of the patient’s condition he/she may be referred to a neurologist, neurosurgeon, or neuropsychologist.

The treating doctor will first ask about the injury and then ask questions that test the patient’s learning, memory and ability to pay attention. The doctor may ask problem questions to the patient to find out how quickly the patient can solve the questions. The doctor will also check your strength, balance, coordination, reflexes, and sensation.

He will ask you to undergo these following tests to find out if there is any serious injury (TBI):

  • MRI scan
  • CT scan
  • Electroencephalogram
  • Special Eye Test

What are the complications of concussion?

The complications of concussion include:

  • problems walking
  • concentration difficulties
  • memory loss
  • delayed reaction to stimuli
  • balance problems
  • seizures
  • draining of blood or clear fluid from the ears or nose
  • unequal pupil size
  • blurred vision
  • sensitivity to light and noise
  • abnormal eye movement
  • lasting confusion
  • slurred speech
  • repeated vomiting
  • brief loss of consciousness after the injury
  • coma

What is the treatment for concussion?

The doctor will ask you to take complete rest so that your brain can recover from concussion. Based on the severity of your injuries you may also need to be hospitalized for some time so that the doctors can keep you under observation.
If you will be allowed to come home, you will need constant supervision. You will be asked to refrain from any vigorous movements, physical exertion and sports and any activities that require deep thinking and mental concentration. Therefore reading, texting, watching T.V., playing video games, doing schoolwork will also be prohibited as these activities can worsen your symptoms. 

He may prescribe painkillers for the headaches. You will need to go for regular follow-ups so that the doctor can test your cognitive abilities, and motor skills and keep a track of the symptoms gradually resolving. Based on your progress your doctor will tell you when to resume normal activities. 

For cases of TBI, the doctor may suggest surgery (to remove clotted blood, repair skull fractures, and relieve pressure in the skull) and also rehabilitative care. Treatment for TBI is aimed at minimizing secondary injury and life support. 

Medications prescribed by the doctor for TBIs include anti-depressants, anti-anxiety medications, muscle relaxants, and anticonvulsants.

Would you like to consult a doctor for Concussion ?

Questions answered by trusted doctors

Verified User
I am recovering from a concussion. I am almost fully recovered and was planning on doing psychedelics with my friend this weekend. Would I be at any extra risk due to my concussion?
Dr. Srikant Sharma
Psychiatrist, Delhi
Why on Earth you wanna go for that..Any substance after neurological insult is to be avoided as much as possible..I mean they can cause deletrious effects on your functioning in many ways....Health should be the primary issue in your head..For pleasure seek other options like great meal.. meeting friends.. walk.. reading..done
Verified User
I have bloating problem due to acidity. Could you suggest good medicine. I'm having this problem from longtime
Dr. Kumar Parth
Gastroenterologist, Bangalore
Hi, follow some basic life style changes:Stop tea, coffee, spicy food. Take your timely. Avoid cabbage, capsicum, citrus fruits ( for a while). Don't drink water with food, take after 40 min. as much as you want thereafter. Don't liye down immediately after food. Finish your night meal by 8.30 pm maximum. Always keep your stomach 1/4 th empty. You can divide your meal into 5-6 times a day. Avoid wearing tight pants ( it compress your belly/ stomach). Avoid the particular food, which you observed that after taking you feel bloating, fullness, upper abdominal pain/ discomfort, reflux symptoms etc. Take tab. PANTODAC DSR (1-0-1) half an hour before meal for 7 days.
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Did you know?

India has highest rate of head injuries due to accidents

India has one of the highest rates of motorcycle injuries. Of the victims classified as "severely injured", nearly 76 % sustain head injuries, a figure 25 times higher than that in developed countries.

Helmets are a must while driving a motorcycle

The risk of death is nearly 2.5 times more among riders without helmets.

Highest rates of motorcycle injuries

40% of those killed and injured on Indian roads are motorcyclists.

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