A concussion is a traumatic brain injury (usually considered minor) that occurs when the upper body or head is impacted, and the brain is violently shaken inside the skull. The brain is a soft, sensitive organ that is surrounded by meninges (membrane covering the brain) and cerebrospinal fluid to help cushion and protect it. But, if there is a blow to the head or other impact that causes the brain to bounce against the skull, the brain can have impaired function.
A concussion is considered mild traumatic brain injury that usually heals with rest, but can at times be more serious and have complications:
Second Impact Syndrome — if a second impact jostles the brain before it has healed from the first concussion, the brain can swell. This brain swelling is often fatal.
Post-Concussion Syndrome — weeks and even months after a concussion, a collection of symptoms may still be present. Symptoms can include impaired thinking, headaches and amnesia.
Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) — repeated head injuries can cause long-term damage to the brain.
Causes and Symptoms of Concussions
Concussions can be caused by falls, car crashes, recreational activities or organized sports.
Some concussions symptoms may indicate additional damage such as bleeding or a tear in the meninges. The injured person should go to the emergency room if he or she has any of the following signs:
persistent vomiting, especially if a headache is also present
severe headache that gets worse instead of improving
loss of consciousness
noticeable decline in mental acuity
loss of sensation or decreased coordination of arms or legs
becoming confused or agitated
uneven pupil size
extremely drowsiness or difficulty being woken up
Concussion symptoms can vary depending on how severe the brain trauma is. Other common, but less serious symptoms can also indicate a concussion:
ringing in the ears
Other symptoms may not occur for several hours or even days after the concussion, and can become long-term complications:
light or noise sensitivity
mood or personality changes
difficulty in thinking
trouble with balance
If the symptoms do not dissipate in a few days, contact a brain injury specialist. A concussion assessment will evaluate your brain’s functioning.
How Is a Concussion Diagnosed at NSPC?
Located in the New York region, Neurological Surgery, P.C. (NSPC) has a range of assessment tools are available to determine cognitive function. One of the new computerized tests is the ImPACT (Immediate Post-Concussion Assessment and Cognitive Testing) system. This neuropsychological test is particularly useful to help determine if student athletes are ready to resume play and can help physicians plot the best course of post-concussion treatment for each individual.
State-of-the-Art Concussion Treatments at NSPC
Rest and avoiding activities that could lead to a second concussion are key to concussion recovery. The Long Island Concussion Center at NSPC provides extensive assessment and medical treatment of acute concussions and continuing post-concussive syndrome.
As a leader in brain and spine conditions in the NY metro area, NSPC has specialists in neurology, neuropsychology, neurosurgery, pain management and physical therapy to provide excellent traumatic brain injury treatment and post-concussion management plans.