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January_2014_Concussion_Blog_Post(by Kerri Kallus, Senior Physical Therapist, Sports Certified Specialist, Certified Athletic Trainer, Certified McKenzie Therapist St. David’s Rehabilitation)

Concussion Causes

Concussions are defined as, “a mild form of a traumatic brain injury (TBI) caused by a bump or blow to the head or body, or an injury that jars and shakes the brain inside the skull” (Center for Disease Control and Prevention). When we hear the word “concussion,” we often think of it as being a sports-related injury, but athletes are not the only ones susceptible to these injuries – children and adults of all ages can be just as vulnerable.

Leading causes of concussions, as seen in the emergency department, are:

  • Falls
  • Motor-vehicle accidents
  • Unintentionally being struck by or against an obstacle
  • Assault
  • Playing sports

A person does not have to pass out or be “knocked out” to have a concussion. In fact, unconsciousness occurs in 10% or less of all concussion injuries.

Concussion Symptoms

Common symptoms of a concussion are divided into four categories:

  1. Thinking and Remembering
    1. Not thinking clearly
    2. Feeling slowed down
    3. Not being able to remember information
    4. Not being able to concentrate
  2. Physical
    1. Headache
    2. Fuzzy or blurry vision
    3. Vomiting or nausea
    4. Dizziness
    5. Sensitivity to light/noise
    6. Balance problems
    7. Feeling tired or lacking energy
  3. Mood and Emotions
    1. Irritability
    2. Sadness/ depression
    3. Nervousness or anxiety
    4. More emotional than usual
  4. Sleeping
    1. Sleeping more or less than usual
    2. Having trouble falling asleep

Young children can have the same symptoms as older children and adults, but they may experience other symptoms, such as: crying more than usual, change in their act or play, having a headache that does not go away, temper tantrums, lack of interest in their favorite toy, loss of new skills, balance and walking problems, a sad mood or not being able to pay attention.

Those who have had concussions in the past are more at risk to having them again, and can experience longer recovery times. If a concussion is suspected or experienced, one should seek immediate medical attention from a doctor.

Recovery

Most people will recover fully from a concussion, but full recovery depends on several factors, including how severe the initial injury was, patient age, health before the concussion and care received after the injury.

Rest is very important to recovery as it allows the brain and body to heal. Education, psychosocial support, school and work support are also important parts of the continuum of care and can play crucial roles in the recovery process.

Additionally, we recommend you talk to your doctor about therapy options. Physical therapy may be helpful for the treatment of balance problems and dizziness. Occupational and speech therapists can provide rehabilitation for cognition and memory. Only when symptoms have reduced significantly, and a doctor has given clearance, should one begin to gradually return to activities of daily living.

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