A concussion, also known as commotio cerebri or traumatic brain injury, is reversible damage to the brain that is usually triggered by a blow or accident to the head.
What is a Concussion?
A concussion is often an injury or damage to the brain or head. This can lead to a brief loss of consciousness. Most of the time, a concussion is triggered by a blow or accident to the head. This then results in a disruption of the brain and its function.
A concussion usually does not cause permanent damage as there is no internal bleeding or blood clots in the brain. A concussion can be divided into a mild, moderate and severe concussion. A points system from the Glasgow Coma Scale (GCS) is used for diagnosis. The lower the final score, the more severe the concussion.
The main cause of concussion is usually external violence to the head. This can lead to the head accelerating and decelerating again with abrasion. The nerve cells in the brain are temporarily but reversibly disturbed. So far, however, the exact processes involved in a concussion are unknown. However, recent studies show that the cell tissue is slightly injured in some patients.
With a concussion, the structure of the brain is not itself damaged. However, the skull bones can be stressed. Typical symptoms or signs of a concussion are mostly impaired consciousness, confusion and memory lapses. Severe headaches, nausea, and vomiting can also be indicative of a concussion.
Symptoms, ailments & signs
In most cases, the symptoms and symptoms of a concussion are fairly straightforward and easy to spot. Especially after an accident or after a severe blow to the head, the symptoms usually always indicate a concussion. In most cases, those affected suffer from unconsciousness and various disorders of consciousness.
These can occur some time after the concussion and limit the person’s life. Many patients also have memory gaps and can no longer correctly remember what happened when the accident occurred. Severe headaches can also occur and can also spread to the back. Many people also suffer from dizziness and vomiting.
These complaints usually last several hours after. [Balance disorders | Balance disorders]] also occur, so that movement restrictions also occur. The severity of these complaints strongly depends on the severity of the accident, so that no general prediction can be made. In some cases, epileptic seizures can also occur, which in the worst case can lead to death. A concussion itself does not usually lead to any particular complications if treated early.
A concussion must be differentiated from a bruised skull, because with this the brain itself is not injured and there is no disturbance of consciousness.
If the symptoms worsen, a more profound brain injury or cerebral haemorrhage could also be possible. The following must also be excluded: fainting, epileptic seizures or impairment due to medication or drugs.
A concussion usually has no long-term consequences. If, however, persistent disturbances of well-being, reduced performance and headaches or depressive moods occur, there may be a postconcussion syndrome or a chronic post-traumatic syndrome, which must be clarified by a doctor.
Worsening headaches, which may be associated with dizziness and impaired vision, suggest bleeding or bruising under the meninges. If left untreated, such bleeding can be fatal. In addition, a concussion also affects general well-being.
If the trauma is not dealt with immediately, the symptoms can be prolonged and serious physical and mental disorders can develop as a result. If concussions occur again and again, this can impair mental performance in the long term. In severe cases, the recurring tremors in the brain develop into permanent damage and diseases such as dementia.
Concussions in babies and toddlers can cause speech disorders and memory lapses, but also permanent developmental disorders. The not yet fully formed skull bone also promotes life-threatening skull fractures. A fall or blow to the head should therefore be medically clarified immediately in order to avoid complications.
When should you go to the doctor?
The suspicion of a concussion is always a reason to see a doctor or a nearby clinic. This is because the extent of possible brain involvement after an accident or a fall can usually not be correctly assessed by laypeople. This applies, for example, to the reaction of the pupils to light or other neurological effects that an affected person can often no longer correctly assess. In addition, a concussion can be mild in its symptoms such as headache and nausea at the beginning, but can develop serious complications later. The clarification by a doctor brings peace of mind here.
Even after the doctor’s assessment, you may need to seek medical advice at a later point in time. This is the case when symptoms suddenly worsen significantly or additional symptoms appear.
Characteristic symptoms that require a renewed visit to the doctor or even the calling of the emergency doctor are severe headaches, sudden vomiting, visual disturbances and neurological failures of all kinds. Here it is important to react promptly and to exclude complications such as a possible cerebral hemorrhage or to treat them quickly leave. If a concussion is suspected, the doctor can recommend monitoring for 24 hours in advance.
Treatment & Therapy
Urgent medical care is recommended in the event of a concussion. A possible hospital stay of at least 24 hours after the concussion cannot be ruled out. Important body functions such as pulse, blood pressure and breathing are monitored. Furthermore, the state of consciousness is checked in order to detect any deterioration in the general condition in good time.
Appropriate medication will be administered by the doctor against headaches, nausea and vomiting. If the symptoms persist or worsen, the doctor should rule out an injury to the brain or blood vessels. In addition, the doctor should check the general orientation to check the state of consciousness.
Unrestricted bed rest must be guaranteed. In addition, a follow-up examination is recommended in order to be able to treat potential brain hemorrhages or blood clots in good time. As a rule, however, the symptoms of a concussion go away on their own after a few days if the person concerned spares himself, keeps his bed rest and does not watch TV or exercise. However, as the condition improves, light activities can be carried out.
Outlook & forecast
A concussion is usually not life threatening. If the trauma is dealt with quickly, headaches, dizziness and other typical symptoms will subside quickly. Permanent damage or dysfunction in the brain area is unlikely. However, the symptoms can persist for weeks to months.
Those affected then suffer from persistent concentration problems, mood swings or migraines – symptoms that strain the psyche in the long term and greatly reduce the quality of life. The major complaints occur immediately after the triggering trauma. Then there is dizziness, severe pain and bleeding, which often cause panic attacks or severe nervousness in those affected.
Serious traumatic brain injuries can cause neurological damage, persistent impaired consciousness and other long-term effects. If swelling of the brain or internal bleeding occurs after a concussion, it can be fatal.
However, traumatic brain injury usually has a good prognosis. Most of those affected are able to do sports again after a short hospital stay and are also fully mentally fit. Isolated symptoms of failure can never be completely ruled out, even if the outcome is positive. The exact diagnosis can only be made by a doctor who can accurately assess the severity of the trauma and the likelihood of any subsequent symptoms.
There is no direct way to prevent a concussion. Protective measures such as bicycle helmets, motorcycle helmets, etc. are, however, quite useful. Likewise, you should avoid too brutal sports, such as boxing, if necessary.
Follow-up care for a concussion must be observed. It consists of immobilizing the head and a great deal of rest. Drinking and the associated hydration should not be neglected either. A patient with a concussion has excessively stressed their head and brain. It is therefore necessary that a period of rest is required to be able to function properly again.
In order for the recovery to progress in the best possible way, not only physical, but also mental rest is required. The affected person should switch off completely and not worry too much. The length of the rest period depends entirely on the severity of the concussion. This can be different for each person. Some people need months of rest, other people a few weeks are enough and they no longer feel any pain.
If children are affected by a concussion, more attention should be paid to maintaining calm. The brain usually needs a long time to recover properly. For this very reason, it is very important that certain guidelines are adhered to in order to facilitate a quick recovery.
You can do that yourself
A concussion is an event that, with the cooperation of the person concerned, can often heal more quickly and without the addition of undesirable complications. In this context, it is fundamentally important that the patient consistently follows the instructions of the attending physician and that they immediately seek medical treatment if new symptoms occur, such as increased pain, dizziness or visual disturbances.
In order to regenerate as quickly as possible in the event of a concussion, it is important to be as gentle as possible. In particular, this means avoiding all physical activities that could cause a renewed shock to the already stressed regions. In addition, there is also a mental rest. In many cases, the patient can read something or watch TV, but there should be no strong mental stress. This is especially true for mental stress or wearing headphones with loud music.
At best, the recovery made by the rest in a darkened, quiet and pleasant temperature-controlled room. It is often ideal if the head is slightly raised, but in any case positioned comfortably for the patient. Rapid recovery can also be supported in the context of nutrition. Easily digestible food and a sufficient amount of drink often prove to be optimal, ideally with water or herbal teas. On alcohol and nicotine should be avoided with a concussion.