The brain rests inside the skull in a pool of liquid called the cerebro-spinal fluid. The fluid creates a cushioning effect for the brain, so that our daily activities do not cause movement of the brain inside the skull.
However, when a person undergoes a head injury due to a fall, an accident, an assault on the head, physical abuse (where the person’s head is shaken vigorously), a sports-related injury, or a road accident, the situation is different. The brain is knocked around inside the hard skull. This causes what is called a ‘concussion’.
Since the brain controls almost every function of our body, concussion can have several short-term symptoms or consequences.
Causes and Risk Factors
- Falling which results in head injury; especially common in young children and older adults
- Participating in high-risk sporting activities which can cause extreme impact to the head or rapid deceleration of the head, such as football, hockey, soccer, rugby, boxing, diving, or theme-park rides
- Being involved in a motor vehicle collision, resulting in a head injury or whiplash injury
- Being involved in a road accident as a pedestrian
- Being a soldier, paramilitary or police personnel involved in a combat
- Being a victim of physical abuse where the head is beaten or shaken vigorously
- Having had a concussion in the past due to any of the above reasons
- Wet or slippery surfaces which cause slippage and head injury
- Diseases such as Parkinson’s syndrome where the person’s motor skills have deteriorated, resulting in head injury
- Exercises or leisure activities that are not properly done, resulting in rapid movement of the head
- Vigorous head-banging which is common with music artists and their fans
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Grades or Types of Concussions
Concussions are graded as mild, moderate or severe depending on the symptoms displayed after the event. Also called Grade 1, 2 and 3 concussion
- Grade 1: Symptoms last for less than 15 minutes but there is no loss of consciousness
- Grade 2: There is no loss of consciousness but the symptoms last longer than 15 minutes
- Grade 3: The person loses consciousness, sometimes just for a few seconds
Depending on the grade of concussion, the symptoms can vary. It’s good to consult a doctor immediately and not take them casually, or try home-remedies.
Symptoms in adolescents or adults
Cognitive or brain-function related
- Confusion or feeling dazed
- concentration difficulties
- temporary memory loss
- Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
- Delayed response to questions
- Forgetfulness, such as repeatedly asking the same question
- Concentration and memory complaints
- Confusion or disorientation, such as difficulty recognizing people or places
Sensory organs related
- Slurred speech
- Blurred vision
- Sensitivity to light
- Sensitivity to noise
- Ringing in ears
- unequal pupil size
- abnormal eye movement
- Disorders of taste and smell
- behaviour or personality changes
- Irritability and other personality changes
- Psychological adjustment problems
- Depression and sadness
- nausea or vomiting
- balance problems or dizziness
- loss of physical coordination
- problems walking
- seizures, dizziness and ‘seeing stars’
- draining of blood or clear fluid from the ears or nose
- brief loss of consciousness after the injury
- an inability to wake up
- Dazed appearance
- Sleep disturbances
Symptoms in infants or children
- Large head bumps or bruises on areas other than the forehead
- Excessive crying
- Dazed appearance
- Irritability and crankiness
- Loss of balance and unsteady walking
- Listlessness and tiring easily
- Lack of interest in favourite toys
- Change in eating or sleeping patterns
- Use protective equipment: If you are participating in a sporting or leisure activity where there can be knock on your head, an injury to your head, or shaking of your head, wear proper headgear, padding, mouth and eye-guards.
- Use a helmet: Bike-riders and sportspersons should wear a helmet at all times. The helmet should fit properly and be well-maintained without any other issues
- Drive safely: While driving a four-wheel, wear a seatbelt and follow prescribed speed limits. Do not drive under the influence of alcohol, or drugs.
- Be sensible: Avoid getting into fights where you may be assaulted on the head
- Make your home and office safe: Ensure there is adequate lighting, the floor is not wet or slippery and there are no overhanging objects or loose objects that can hit your head.
- Protect your children: Block stairways and install window guards to reduce the risk of falling. Watch your children during sporting or leisure activities to prevent the risk of injury
- Exercise regularly: This keeps you mentally and physically fit. This prevents the risk of losing balance and falling, or getting confused over minor matters
With mild and moderate concussion, the chances of recovery are very good. Even with severe concussion, the right treatment can reverse the effects of concussion with time. Treatment options vary depending on the severity of the concussion. Only in cases of severe concussion, a surgery may be required. Else, the doctor will prescribe rest (lots of it), therapy to normalize your brain functions, and medication to numb pain or suppress unwanted symptoms.
Seek expert help
Concussion can happen to anybody once or twice in their lifetime. However, a concussion should not be ignored no matter how mild it is. A doctor is best qualified to assess whether you have grade-1, 2 or 3 types of concussion. He/she will conduct various tests to diagnose this and then prescribe the right course of treatment for best results. Consult a reputed hospital for this. They have specialist neurosurgeons with enough experience and expertise in handling concussion cases.
Kauvery Hospital is globally known for its multidisciplinary services at all its Centers of Excellence, and for its comprehensive, Avant-Grade technology, especially in diagnostics and remedial care in heart diseases, transplantation, vascular and neurosciences medicine. Located in the heart of Trichy (Tennur, Royal Road and Alexandria Road (Cantonment), Chennai, Karaikudi, Hosur and Salem, the hospital also renders adult and pediatric trauma care.
Chennai – 044 4000 6000 • Trichy – Cantonment – 0431 4077777 • Trichy – Heartcity – 0431 4003500 • Trichy – Tennur – 0431 4022555 • Karaikudi – 04565 244555 • Hosur – 04344 272727 • Salem – 0427 2677777