Concussions: symptoms and treatments

By Lauren Zedlar

Elm Staff Writer

Unlike a sprained ankle or a dislocated shoulder, concussions are one of the only injuries a person can have with no obviously visible symptoms. Concussions are tricky because a person can have one without knowing. 

According to The Mayo Clinic, “a concussion is a traumatic brain injury that can affect brain function.” These effects are usually found to be temporary and can include headaches, problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination. 

The Mayo Clinic also said that a concussion occurs when there is a sudden acceleration or deceleration of the head. This can cause your brain to slide back and forth forcefully against the inner walls of your skull. 

“This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells,” the website for the Center for Disease Control and Prevention said.

This injury affects brain function resulting in signs and symptoms of a concussion.

According to Mayo Clinic, common symptoms include headaches and amnesia that usually involves forgetting the event that caused the concussion. Physical symptoms include ringing in the ears, nausea, vomiting, fatigue or drowsiness, or blurry vision. Other reported symptoms are confusion, dizziness, seeing stars, or feeling as if in a fog. 

The Mayo Clinic said some symptoms can also be delayed and occur a few days after injury. These include concentration and memory complaints, irritability and other personality changes, sensitivity to light and noise, sleep disturbances, psychological adjustment problems and depression, and disorders of taste and smell. 

According to experts at WebMD, in rare cases of a concussion, “a clump of blood may form on the brain after an impact or jolt to the head.” 

In these cases, 9-1-1 should be called immediately and the injured person should be taken to the emergency room. 

According to WebMD, symptoms for more serious cases include “one pupil larger than the other, drowsiness or inability to wake up, a headache that gets worse and does not go away, slurred speech, decreased coordination, repeated vomiting or nausea, seizures, increased confusion, restlessness, and loss of consciousness.” 

To treat a concussion, The Mayo Clinic recommends seeking medical attention to take the proper steps to help your brain heal. 

According to The Mayo Clinic, “relative rest, which includes limiting activities that require thinking and mental concentration, is recommended for the first two days after a concussion.” 

However, The Mayo Clinic does not recommend complete rest such as lying in a dark room and avoiding all types of stimuli. After a few days of taking it easy, they suggest “slowly increasing daily activities” like using a computer or watching tv if that can be tolerated without symptoms. 

They also recommend light exercise and activity a few days after the injury, but suggest staying away from any activity that has a high risk of giving another head injury until full recovery. 

There are some preventive measures that can be taken to protect oneself from a concussion, according to the CDC. They recommend wearing protective gear during sports or other physically demanding activities, understanding signs and symptoms of concussions, and playing safely even if playing contact sports. 

Featured Photo caption: Concussions are most common in contact sports, but can happen to anyone. Photo By Marah Vain Callahan.

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