A concussion, otherwise called a mild traumatic brain injury (TBI), is commonly described as a blow or jolt to the head that disrupts the function of the brain. A concussion can result from a sports injury, a car crash, fall or other accident. It can also occur from a violent shaking of the head or upper body.
Symptoms of a concussion can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance, and coordination. Some concussions cause loss of consciousness, but most do not; therefore, it is very possible to have a concussion and not realize it.
What causes a concussion? Think of the brain as mushy gelatin. That gelatin acts as a cushion to protect the brain from everyday jolts and bumps using the cerebrospinal fluid from inside your skull. Any kind of trauma to the head, neck, or upper body can cause the brain to hit against the walls of the skull. Sudden jolts to the head can also cause brain injury, which can affect brain function, thus causing a concussion.
When to Seek Medical Attention for a Concussion
People are often unsure about when they should seek medical attention for a concussion. The best answer for that is: when in doubt, seek prompt medical attention. While most concussions usually result in a headache or dizziness for a few days and while most people fully recover after a concussion, about 5 percent of people can develop bleeding or a blood clot that can be life-threatening if not promptly diagnosed and treated.
Anyone who experiences a brain injury, even a minor one, needs monitoring in the hours following the injury. If symptoms worsen, they should seek emergency care.
Signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle and may not show up immediately. Symptoms can last for days, weeks, or even longer. It is critical to seek immediate medical attention if any of the following symptoms are present:
- Pressure in the head
- Temporary loss of consciousness
- ‘Foggy’ feeling
- Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
- Dizziness or “seeing stars”
- Ringing in the ears
- Slurred speech
- Delayed response to questions
- Appearing dazed
Even mild concussions should not be taken lightly. Contrary to popular belief, there is no such thing as a “minor concussion.” In most cases, a single concussion should not cause permanent damage; however, be careful because any trauma resulting in a second concussion can cause permanent disability or even death.
Who Should I See?
It is very important to see a medical professional who has knowledge of and experience with concussions, such as a neurosurgeon, neurologist, or neuropsychologist. These doctors specialize in assessing brain disorders through tests of mental function. For patients suffering from post-concussion syndrome or the effects of a more serious traumatic brain injury, a neurosurgeon may be called upon for advanced imaging studies.
Since neurosurgeons also have expertise in more serious brain injuries, they are often called in to consult with a multidisciplinary concussion team in assessing and treating these patients. As experts in the effects of trauma on the brain, neurosurgeons can provide valuable input to a treatment plan.
The experts at Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery offer surgical and nonsurgical treatment of intracranial and spinal disorders. They practice comprehensive, patient-centered care designed to achieve the best possible outcomes. Front Range Spine and Neurosurgery is dedicated to making a difference in people’s lives and in the world. Call (303) 790-1800 to request an appointment today.