Concussions are caused by a blow, bump or jolt to the head. They can also be caused by a hit to the body that results in the rapid movement of the brain.
These traumatic brain injuries can impact brain function causing headaches, loss of coordination, and problems with concentration. Some concussions cause a loss of consciousness.
The most common initial symptoms include:
- Ringing in the ears
Initial symptoms of a concussive brain injury may include dizziness, a loss of consciousness, confusion and headache. Most concussion symptoms resolve in a matter of days to a few weeks.
Sometimes, symptoms do not dissolve within the expected recovery period and issues continue months and even years after the initial brain trauma. This is called Post-concussion Syndrome. There is no diagnostic test associated with this syndrome. Your doctor will determine if you have this based off symptoms and time of head injury. While there is no cure, your doctor may be able to treat some of the symptoms.
There is no treatment for concussions but time. Our neurologists can recommend treatments for specific symptoms. This may include physical therapy, cognitive behavioral therapy, and/or medications.
Getting multiple concussions or traumatic brain injuries can be problematic. If your brain doesn’t have time to fully heal from the first incident it can take you longer to recover after a subsequent injury. Long term effects can include everything from forgetfulness to personality changes. Bottom line: it’s important to let your brain recover.
The biggest thing you can do to prevent a concussion is to protect the head. Wear a helmet while playing sports with heavy contact and work on strengthening neck muscles. Always wear a seatbelt in a car to prevent head injuries during a car accident. Knowing the symptoms and recognizing them after an incident can help prevent further injury.
When to see a doctor
Emergency room visits are usually not necessary for concussions but if you have vomiting, difficulty using your legs and arms, severe headaches, sleepiness or worsening confusion it’s best to seek medical advice right away to rule out a more serious injury. For any concussion symptom lasting longer than 1-2 weeks, it would be reasonable to seek neurologic assistance.