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Concussion Treatment

If you’ve recently been in an accident or hit your head, you may notice some pain or odd symptoms after the fact. It can be tempting to brush these off, but they may be a sign of a concussion. While concussions are common, they do require medical evaluation in a timely manner as some can be serious or lead to complications. Any potential damage to the brain can have lasting effects on the body and all of its systems and it may be difficult to tell if you have a mild or severe brain injury on your own. As soon as your head is potentially injured, you should visit a specialist at AICA Tucker for concussion treatment.

What Is a Concussion?

A concussion is a mild form of traumatic brain injury that occurs as a result of some kind of external stimulus. This can be a whiplash-type injury that causes the head to move sharply or a heavy impact to the head, like a sports injury or incident that causes the head to hit a hard surface. Concussions result in some level of disturbance to brain activity, from slightly altered states to loss of consciousness.

Concussions are most commonly sustained during normal activity like a car accident, a fall, or simply hitting your head on something like a cabinet door. Athletes and those playing sports like football or boxing are particularly at risk for blows to the head that can cause concussions. Elderly people and small children are also high-risk categories for concussions. In most cases, a concussion will not be life-threatening, but it can still cause serious symptoms that require treatment to prevent permanent damage.

It is important not to confuse concussions with contusions. A contusion is a bruise, which in many cases can occur on the brain during similar accidents. However, concussions refer specifically to injuries that affect the brain, while you can have a contusion anywhere without it being serious.

Recognizing A Concussion

Depending on the severity of the injury and the person who was injured, symptoms of a concussion can vary widely. A loss of consciousness is not a prerequisite to being diagnosed with a concussion as some people never experience this. It can be tricky to know when a concussion has occurred as you may not notice cognitive changes in yourself at the time they are occurring. For that reason, it’s important to be able to recognize concussions in others as well.

Symptoms of a concussion may not be apparent for some time after the head injury occurs, as long as weeks in some cases. Some signs you may notice in yourself include:

  • Memory or concentration problems
  • Confusion
  • Drowsiness or fatigue
  • Dizziness
  • Double or blurred vision
  • Recurring headaches
  • Nausea and vomiting
  • Sensitivity to noise or light
  • Trouble with balance and coordination

You can also be on the lookout for signs in a loved one who has recently been in an accident or hit their head. Some things you may observe include:

  • Abnormal irritability or mood swings
  • Trouble with balance and coordination, including trouble walking
  • Seizures
  • Clear fluid that drains from the ears or nose
  • Unequal pupil size or abnormal eye movement
  • Lasting confusion
  • Slurred speed
  • Confusion that is prolonged
  • Loss of consciousness
  • Trouble waking up or inability to wake up

Because children are susceptible to concussions, they may not be able to communicate in a way that lets you see some of these symptoms. If you have a child who may have suffered a concussion, look for vomiting, drainage from the mouth or nose, irritability, or drowsiness outside of their normal pattern.

When to Seek Concussion Treatment

If there is any chance you have suffered a concussion, it is crucial to seek medical treatment quickly. It can be hard to differentiate between a concussion and other brain injuries, or they may occur at the same time, and a doctor will be able to rule out anything that requires emergency care.

In sports injuries and car accident injuries, concussions may also be accompanied by other injuries, particularly to the spine. If this may be the case, do not seek transport yourself, but remain still and wait to be moved by first responders or other professionals.

Diagnostics

CT scan

If you are suffering from a concussion, your doctor will likely want to confirm their suspicions with various tests such as the CT scan, which will create a composite image of the brain using different angles of cross-sections.

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MRI scan

MRI scans can provide images of the brain using magnetic field technology and radio waves without the use of radiation. They show very detailed visuals of brain injuries like concussions.

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Diagnosing a Concussion

The first thing a doctor will look to do is rule out severe brain injuries. They will likely ask you questions about when you sustained the concussion; this is just as much to gather data as it is to see how well you are able to answer questions and hold a conversation. Often this conversation is enough to determine if a concussion is possible. You will likely also be asked to perform some cognitive tasks and demonstrate some motor skills to help assess your condition.

In more severe cases, you may be sent for diagnostic imaging like an MRI scan or a CT scan to get a better sense of the brain. This can also rule out severe damage like a fracture or swelling of the brain.

Common Concussion Treatment

When a concussion is accompanied by injuries like bleeding or swelling in the brain, surgery and other invasive medical procedures may become necessary. However, most concussions heal without any major intervention from doctors. Concussion treatment will focus on rest and management of symptoms.

If headaches are a symptom for you, your doctor can provide guidance on what over-the-counter medication is safest for you to take. Your primary instructions will involve rest. This means abstaining from strenuous physical activity as well as mental exercises. Work or homework may need to be put on hold for a period of time. It may even be recommended you avoid or limit screen time to give your brain and eyes a chance to rest.

Outlook and Potential Complications

Most people completely recover from a concussion, though symptoms can sometimes last for months. Longer symptom periods can lead to emotional or mental strain that impacts a victim. But most people are back to normal within weeks with no long-term complications.

While a single concussion is generally healed with basic home remedies and monitoring. However, concussions have a largely cumulative impact on the brain, and sustaining future concussions can be problematic. Even a second concussion can lead to second impact syndrome, which increases the chance of severe brain swelling in response to the incident. This is why avoiding sports for some time is recommended, if not stopping altogether.

Concussions can also lead to post-concussion syndrome, which causes extended symptoms, including post-traumatic headaches. Extended bouts of vertigo are also common.

Preventing Concussions

Like any injury, the best thing you can do is avoid a concussion happening in the first place, though this is not always possible. There are some measures you can take to prevent a concussion, which will be especially important if you have already had one or more concussions in the past.

Safety gear is the number one prevention tip. This means wearing your seatbelt properly in a car and a helmet when you ride any sort of bike. Sports safety gear is also crucial, as is cautious gameplay.

For those cases where you can’t avoid a head injury, AICA Tucker is here to offer expert care. Our neurologists work with radiologists, chiropractors, physical therapists, and orthopedists to develop care plans designed for your individual needs for concussion treatment. Contact us today to begin the process of recovery.