Concussion- Is it Dangerous?

Concussion- Is it Dangerous?

A concussion refers to a type of traumatic injury to the brain which affects its overall health and functionality. This brain injury is often followed by a blow to the head which may or may not lead to loss of consciousness.

The first 24 hours following a concussion are the most important. Most of the people who suffer from this traumatic brain injury usually recover in a few days or weeks. However, some may experience serious and life-threatening complications.

Hence, it is extremely important to monitor every patient who has undergone concussion to check if is developing any complications. These complications may include epidural hematomas, subdural hematomas, and contusion.

For understanding the need for medical observation, it is extremely important to know what exactly happens in a concussion. Any blunt force on the brain forces it to strike the skull at one side. This is followed by hitting the skull on the other side due to rebound force.

This two-way hitting of the delicate brain with the concrete hard skull bone is what leads to bruising and contusion. Eventually, bleeding occurs.

As per the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), a concussion is among the leading causes of disability and even fatalities in both children and adolescents.

For older groups, a concussion is usually caused by competitive sports. However, in infants and adolescents, physical abuse, motor accidents, and falls are the culprits.

For the rest of the population, half of the concussions are due to car accidents while the other half is due to sports, falls, and assaults. Abusing drugs and alcohol is also considered to be a contributing factor in certain cases.

Wearing safety equipment such as helmets and seat belts can help prevent concussion. However, in some cases, even these protective equipment fail to provide necessary prevention.

Concussion- Is it Dangerous?

Signs and Symptoms of Concussion

If you have just been in a car accident or have received a blow to your head, it is important to look for signs of a concussion. It is also important to note here that these signs and symptoms may not appear for days in some cases.

Concussion Symptoms in Adults

The commonest manifestations of a concussion in adults are:

  • A headache
  • Tinnitus
  • Increased pressure in the head
  • Loss of consciousness for sometime
  • Brain fog/ confused thoughts
  • Slurring of speech
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Loss of memory
  • Delay in response to stimuli
  • Dazed appearance
  • Increased sensitivity to light and noise
  • Increased fatigue
  • Irritability, depression, and other mood changes

Concussion Symptoms in Children/Adolescents

The brain of every person is different. Moreover, there are different types of traumas that may lead to concussion with varying manifestations.

For this reason, it is extremely important to recognize concussion symptoms in different age groups. A concussion in children or adolescents is likely to produce the following symptoms:

  • Loss of consciousness for sometime
  • Loss of memory
  • Confusion
  • Appearing stunned or dazed
  • Pain in neck
  • A headache
  • Being clumsy
  • Changes in mood such as irritability, aggression, anxiety, and anger
  • Fatigue
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Dizziness
  • Vertigo
  • Delayed response to stimuli
  • Not being able to retain new information
  • Changes in the senses of vision, hearing, taste, and smell

Is Concussion Dangerous?

People often tend to ask if concussion dangerous or not. The truth is that it actually is. However, people fail to acknowledge the complexities it may cause.

For example, it is common for most of the coaches to take concussion lightly and tell the athletes to walk it off. Most of its symptoms are ignored and not taken seriously.

With recent advancements, a concussion is now considered as potentially dangerous conditions and its symptoms are widely being acknowledged. A concussion is widely spread and can become a serious condition if not managed properly.

The researchers belonging to the University of California Brain Injury Research Center have calculated that almost 1.6 to 3.8 million cases of concussion appear in the United States every year. It is commonly seen in adolescents and athletes

Contact sports such as football, rugby, wrestling, and ice hockey are the most common reasons for concussion in male athletes. On the other hand, soccer, cheerleading, basketball and ice hockey are some of the reasons why females get concussions.

A survey released recently has included 13000 junior high and high school students. It has mentioned about the extent of concussions in these athletes.

The report has indicated that about 14 percent of these students suffer from a concussion. 6 percent of the group has more than one concussions simultaneously.

Concussion- Is it Dangerous?

Concussion occurring in a young brain can lead to serious consequences, especially in cases where multiple episodes of concussions coexist. Multiple concussions have also been related to a high risk of multiple sclerosis.

New research is also highlighting the treatment protocols for concussion especially in female athletes. Researchers have indicated that females take more time to recover from a concussion as compared to males.

Evidence even suggests how the median recovery time for females is 28 days as compared to 11 days in case of males.

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Concussion Treatment

The conventional treatment for concussion involves seeking immediate medical attention if the attack is followed by loss of consciousness. Loss of consciousness does not necessarily occur after a physical trauma to head.

Concussion diagnosis requires a physician to inquire about the details regarding the injury. He also asks about the symptoms that are experienced immediately after the injury. Furthermore, he checks the signs that the patient is experiencing at the time of examination.

It is also common for the doctor to ask about the past history of injuries. He will also inquire if you have been taking any medications or supplements before the incident.

Concussion- Is it Dangerous?

Other than this, you will be tested for your reflexes, memory, balance, and response of eyes to light. In certain cases, the doctor may recommend going through an MRI or CT scan.

If the examination proves the presence of a concussion, the healthy patients are normally sent home after a session of instructions. It is very important for you to follow these instructions.

General directions mostly include:

  • Avoiding to fall asleep for at least 12 to 24 hours. Alternatively, the patient must be woken up every 90 minutes to two hours
  • A close monitoring of mental status is recommended
  • Looking out for symptoms of lethargy
  • Taking mental and physical rest. This means avoiding activities like reading, using a digital device, watching TV, and exercising
  • Avoiding injuries that may increase the extent of the head injury
  • Consulting with a neurosurgeon or a concussion specialist if you have had a history of concussions

In cases with mild concussions, the symptoms usually disappear after a few days or weeks. However, severe cases require more time. As mentioned above, females generally require a longer time to heal as compared to males.

During this time, it is crucial to look for any lingering symptoms and report it back to your doctor.

Athletes must seek a clearance from their overlooking medical team before resuming their exercises or sports. This also goes for every person whose occupation involves scaffolding, climbing ladders, operating machinery, and other activities that require good balance.

For senior patients, especially those who live alone, it is better to monitor them at hospitals to look for any life-threatening complications.



Nancy holds a Pharmacy degree from University of Michigan and Masters of Science MS in Infectious Disease and Global Health (MS-IDGH) from Tufts University. She worked as a lecturer for three years before she turned towards medical writing. Her area of interest are infectious diseases; causes, mechanism, diagnosis, treatments and prevention strategies. Most of her writings ensure an easy understanding of uncommon diseases.

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