Xray of a brain showing electrical impulses

What is a Concussion or TBI

What is a concussion?

A concussion, also referred to as a mild TBI or mild Traumatic Brain Injury, is caused by a blow to the head, or violent shake to the head or upper body. Inside your skull your brain floats and there is a gap between it and the skull bone filled with fluid. Your spinal cord is attached at the base of the brain, like a balloon on a string. The brain is protected from bumping into the skull, as you move your head and body, by a layer of fluid that works like a gel pad. Most day to day activities and movements are safe and your brain is well protected but even the best gel pad will crush with enough force.  When that happens, there is a good chance that you will have suffered concussion or a bruise on your brain sometimes referred to as a mild TBI or a brain bleed. That bleed can be fatal so you need to be aware that any bang to the head needs to be monitored closely and should be checked by a doctor as soon as possible if concussion symptoms get worse. You do not need to be playing a contact sport to be at risk. Concussion can happen to anyone at any time.  Vehicle, motorcycle / cycling, slip and fall, and pedestrian accidents, Violence, are just a few ways someone can become a victim of a brain injury.

Who is most at risk?

  • Children under the age of 4
  • Young adults between the ages 15 – 24
  • Males at any age
  • Seniors 60 years and older

Can I see a concussion?

No, you can not see a concussion.  But you may see the symptoms, or the evidence of the impact caused by a blow to the head such as, a bump that may or may not bruise. Bumps to the head are usually good indications of a potential concussion but they may be in the hairline and could be missed easily. To see a concussion requires an X-ray, CT scan or an MRI performed by a specialist at a medical facility.

Can I miss identifying a concussion?

Yes. Mild concussions are easily missed because the symptoms often appear a few hours or even days after impact and you may think you just have a headache or a bug that makes you feel a bit under the weather. You may have even forgotten that you banged your head or experienced a shake strong enough to cause an injury.

Maybe. Moderate concussions are easier to identify. The impact is often greater, and the person will often state they, banged their head and saw stars and now have a bit of a headache but its no big deal.  Recognizable concussion symptoms may not be immediate.  They may complain about having mild symptoms but may be dismissive until they last longer than expected or get worse.

No. Serious and catastrophic brain injuries are typically recognized immediately.  Should you witness a serious incident call 911 immediately, do not move the person, ask if anyone has first aid training, and keep the person stabilized until emergency response arrives. This needs immediate medical attention.

What does a concussion symptom look like?

It may only be one of these symptoms but that does not make the risks or complications any less worrisome or dangerous. Sometimes these symptoms are not present immediately.  Which may mask the injury even more and make it even more dangerous. Common symptoms include:

  • Headache
  • Feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Appearing dazed or confused
  • Forgetting what happened
  • “Seeing stars”
  • Ears ringing
  • Nausea / Vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Fatigue

Later symptoms could appear hours or days after the injury and may include:

  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Forgetfulness
  • Irritability or other personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Problems sleeping
  • Depression
  • Senses such as taste, and smell may be different or “off”

More serious symptoms that should receive immediate medical attention include:

  • Persistent vomiting
  • A loss of consciousness
  • A persistent headache that gets worse
  • Changes in behavior, irritability
  • Stumbling or clumsiness, changes to someone’s gross motor skills or coordination
  • Difficulty recognizing people or places – general confusion
  • Slurred speech or changes in speech
  • Seizures
  • Pupils that are not the same in size – slow response to changes in light or uneven changes in pupil size
  • Dizziness that does not go away
  • Large bump on the head

How long will this last?

Good question.  Some concussion symptoms last for a few days, weeks or even longer.  Factors that affect your healing time are age, general health, and concussion frequency. Most people have a full recovery, but some are not as fortunate. If this is the case and your injury was not your fault it is a good idea to contact a personal injury lawyer at Wishart Brain & Spine.

IF YOU ARE NOT SURE OR ARE CONCERNED THAT YOU OR A LOVED ONE MAY BE SUFFERING FROM A CONCUSSION ALWAYS SEEK MEDICAL ATTENTION AS SOON AS POSSIBLE. This post and website is not intended to be used as medical, legal advice or diagnosis it is for information purposes only. The information provided is basic and does not cover all the causes, symptoms or consequences of a concussion or any injury. If you are injured call 911, get someone to take you to an emergency room at the hospital, or see your physician as soon as possible.

There are many different types of concussions. This blog focuses on the basic understanding and an introduction to concussions. If you would like to learn more about the different types of concussions from a more medical perspective , please visit the GF Strong Website.

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