Concussion

What is a concussion?

A concussion is a traumatic brain injury caused by a bump or blow (to the head or the body) causing a back-and-forth movement of the brain in the skull.

It often occurs with head impact, but can also occur without.  When the brain bounces around or twists in the skull, it can cause brain cells to stretch and damage, creating chemical changes in the brain.  This often occurs without loss of consciousness, and “blacking out” does not mean that the concussion is any more or less serious.

Common Symptoms

The most common symptoms of a concussion are:

  • Headache
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue or drowsiness
  • Blurry vision
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding traumatic event
  • Dizziness or “seeing stars”

Observable symptoms include:

  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Slurred speech
  • Delayed response to questions
  • Dazed appearance
  • Forgetfulness

Though many symptoms may appear immediately, there is also a risk of post-concussion syndrome in which symptoms fade and reappear in response to physical or mental stress.  Potential long-term symptoms include:

  • Concentration and memory complaints
  • Irritability and other personality changes
  • Sensitivity to light and noise
  • Sleep disturbances
  • Psychological adjustment problems and depression
  • Disorders of taste and smell

Causes

The main cause of concussion is a bump or blow to the head, though violent shaking of the head and upper body may also cause concussion.  Falls are the most common cause of concussion, though they are also common if you play a contact sport, such as football or hockey.

Treatment

The brain part of your concussion needs time and rest to heal.   Avoiding another trauma during this period is very important.  Proper nutritional support and rest are also essential to promote the brain’s healing.

Other injuries that often occur simultaneously, such as whiplash and neck injury, do not need the same type of care; these injuries respond better to early active rehabilitation and movement.

In the early stages following concussion, we will often focus on these other injuries and their symptoms so that when your concussion heals, you can return to your fully-functional capacity.

References

Alberta College and Association of Chiropractors. (n.d.). Chiropractic: a piece of the puzzle in dealing with your child’s concussion. https://albertachiro.com/ACAC/Chiropractic_in_Alberta/BLOG/Chiropractic__a_piece_of_the_puzzle_in_dealing_with_your_child_s_concussion_.aspx

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