Understanding Concussions: More Than Just A Bad Bump On The Head

2012-03-02 |

No other organ within the body is provided as much protection as the brain. Given the importance of the brain in ensuring our immediate survival, it makes sense that evolution has invested considerably in the safe keeping of this single organ. It is not just the skull that protects the brain, either. Surrounding the brain, within the skull, are a number of layers of tissue, as well as fluid, that together offer some cushion to the brain against minor bumps and jolts.

Despite this protection, the brain can obviously be injured and the most common form of damage to the brain is the concussion. Unlike most other injuries, concussions can occur with only minimal signs of injury. In some cases, a person who has suffered a concussion will actually show no visible indications of having experienced such a minor traumatic brain injury (MTBI). Even medical imaging will frequently fail to highlight evidence that the brain has been hurt.

Because it is easy for a concussion to escape attention, the result is that concussions can be under diagnosed and under treated. This means that is all the more important to err on the side of caution when there is a possibility of a concussion.

What Is A Concussion?

In the simplest terms, a concussion is the result of the brain experiencing too much force. This can happen because of rapid acceleration, deceleration or spinning that causes the brain to move within the skull. Such motions can result from a number of causes including falls, accidents and blows to the head. Falls alone are the cause for more than one third of all concussions in the US. Many such concussions will show no signs of brain swelling, bruising or internal bleeding, but still pose significant health risks.

The reason concussions are serious is because they can affect the way that the brain operates which means many aspects of brain function can be altered. This can lead to mental problems with attention span, learning, memory, problem solving, judgement, emotional control and mood among many other problems. Physically, a concussion can cause issues related to coordination, balance, general weakness and even the ability to sleep. Depending on the particular injury, these symptoms may go away over time or may persist.

Clearly, the effects of a concussion can be profound for those affected.

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Category: General Health, Health Risks, Medical Research, Symptom Information

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