Concussions are traumatic brain injuries mostly caused by impact to the head, which cause the brain to function in a changed manner. These changes are typically short-term. They include difficulties in concentrating, impaired memory or judgment, frequent headaches, and loss of coordination. In some cases, a concussion is due to violent shaking of the body and head. While concussion doesn’t usually result in unconsciousness, for this reason they are very often overlooked by the victims.
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People who play contact sports often suffer concussions, which are quite common injuries. Thus rugby, hockey and football which often involve heads hitting together are often associated with a high risk of concussion, but the highest risk is in boxing. Brain injury occurs with each concussion and will heal only with adequate rest. However, these injuries are usually mild, and most will end in complete recovery.
However, if a concussion victim experiences vomiting or nausea, any difference in vision, or a strong headache, further evaluation is necessary.
The anatomy of a concussion
A sharp severe impact to the head such as that which occurs in a game of football causes the brain to move within the skull in several different directions. This includes jerking forwards, backwards and in a circular direction. The result of this is that the nerve fibers rotate or twist. This bending produces a break in neuronal communication leading to concussion. If the axon is badly injured, it may swell and then break down, leaving a permanent scar. On the other hand, mildly damaged axons usually heal completely.
Treatment of concussion
Rest is among the best ways to help a concussed brain to heal, and includes mental and physical rest from games, video games, television, computer use and mobile phone texting. School work should also be adjusted for a few weeks, according to medical advice in the specific case.
Acetaminophen can help relieve the headache associated with a concussion. Aspirin and other non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs should be avoided to prevent bleeding from any injured tissue.
Avoid any activity including more than mild physical contact
For complete healing, the concussed person should delay a return to competitive or contact sports for as long as required. This is because repetitive concussion increases the risk of chronic and even fatal brain injury due to bleeding into the brain, and this is more likely when such sports are resumed too soon. For this reason, many sports bodies have defined the minimum rest period that is mandatory following a concussion, and this is usually a matter of several weeks.
VIDEO Who’s at risk of concussion?
High-contact sports activities put participants at high risk of concussion, and they should therefore be played only under direct supervision and with the use of appropriate safety gear to reduce this risk.
One of the most common reasons for concussions in the US is motor vehicle accidents.
Falls are frequent causes of concussion in children and elderly people, usually when the head strikes the pavement or a road curb.
A history of one or more concussions in the past increases the risk of a future one markedly above normal.
Soldiers on active duty have a higher risk of concussions.
Alcohol consumption after a concussion should be strictly avoided.
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