A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head. Concussions can also occur from a fall or a blow to the body that causes the head and brain to move quickly back and forth.
Doctors may describe a concussion as a “mild” brain injury because concussions are usually not life-threatening. Even so, their effects can be serious.
Most people with a concussion recover quickly and fully. But for some people, symptoms can last for days, weeks, or longer.
In general, recovery may be slower among older adults, young children, and teens. Those who have had a concussion in the past are also at risk of having another one and may find that it takes longer to recover if they have another concussion.
Symptoms of concussion usually fall into four categories:
— Thinking/Remembering : Difficulty thinking clearly, feeling slowed down, difficulty concentrating and difficulty remembering new information.
— Physical: Headache, fuzzy or blurry vision, nausea or vomiting, dizziness; sensitivity to noise or light, balance problems, and feeling tired, having no energy.
— Emotional/Mood: Irritability, sadness, more emotional, and nervousness or anxiety.
— Sleep: Sleeping more than usual, sleep less than usual, and trouble falling asleep.
Rest is very important after a concussion because it helps the brain to heal. Ignoring your symptoms and trying to “tough it out” often makes symptoms worse. Be patient because healing takes time. Only when your symptoms have reduced significantly, in consultation with your doctor, should you slowly and gradually return to your daily activities, such as work or school.
If your symptoms come back or you get new symptoms as you become more active, this is a sign that you are pushing yourself too hard. Stop these activities and take more time to rest and recover. As the days go by, you can expect to gradually feel better.
Tips to help you get better: Get plenty of sleep at night, and rest during the day. Avoid activities that are physically demanding (e.g., sports, heavy housecleaning, working-out) or require a lot of concentration (e.g., sustained computer use, video games).
Ask your doctor when you can safely drive a car, ride a bike, or operate heavy equipment. Do not drink alcohol. Alcohol and other drugs may slow your recovery and put you at risk of further injury.
There are many people who can help you and your family as you recover from a concussion. You do not have to do it alone.
Keep talking with your doctor, family members, and loved ones about how you are feeling, both physically and emotionally. If you do not think you are getting better, tell your doctor.
Concussions can happen to anyone, however, young children (toddlers), adolescents involved in sporting activities — football and soccer come to mind immediately, but youth in all types of athletics are at risk — and older people as they are prone to losing their balance and fall.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has a great deal of information available on concussions and traumatic brain injuries. K-State Research and Extension has just released a new curriculum on TBI’s. Concussions are traumatic brain injuries and must be treated appropriately and with respect.