A blow to the head or a sudden movement can damage the state of our nervous system.
The cranial structure, despite being quite protected, is highly susceptible to an injury or accident that ends up causing serious damage or discomfort to the person who suffers it.
One of these accidents is known as concussion, which despite the fact that in most cases does not entail great damage, if the person does not maintain rest and take care of their health, it can end up resulting in a multiple concussion or a syndrome of the second impact.
What is a concussion?
Concussion is the most common and mildest type of traumatic brain injury. On a more technical level, the expression refers to a small loss of consciousness that does not last long and which can occur after receiving an impact to the head, due to an injury or after a movement in which the head and the brain move back and forth very quickly.
Although as a general rule, a concussion does not have to be fatal, it can cause a series of symptoms of considerable importance, which should be treated as quickly as possible.
Likewise, this type of trauma can cause neuronal maladjustments without the need for an apparent structural injury. After a cerebral seizure of this type, the brain is briefly blocked, and there may be loss of consciousness, confusion or memory alterations.
The fact that it is one of the most common brain accidents is due to the ease with which it can occur, since any fall, car accident, or any sport or daily activity that involves a lot of movement makes the person susceptible to suffering a concussion.
Symptoms of concussion
The symptoms associated with concussion vary according to the person who suffers it and according to the severity of the injury. For example, although unconsciousness is a very common symptom of concussion, not all people who suffer from it faint.
In the same way, it is possible that the person experiences the following symptoms both immediately and after a few hours, or even days and weeks, after the accident.
Symptoms of concussion can be classified into three types : mild concussion symptoms, severe symptoms, and symptoms that appear during the recovery process.
1. Mild symptoms
They are the most common symptoms after a concussion, although annoying they do not usually lead to major problems.
- Short-term fainting or loss of consciousness.
- Alterations in memory.
- Confusion or disorientation
- Feeling sleepy.
- Vision problems.
- Nausea or vomiting.
- Photophobia or low tolerance to light.
- Lack of balance
- Slow reaction times.
2. Serious symptoms
If the person experiences any of the following symptoms they should seek medical attention urgently, as these are signs of a major concussion. These symptoms are:
- Alteration of alertness and consciousness.
- Continual feeling of confusion.
- Epileptic seizures.
- Muscular weakness.
- Changes in the size of the pupils.
- Strange eye movements.
- Frequent vomiting
- Difficulty walking or maintaining balance.
- Prolonged unconsciousness or coma.
3. Symptoms during recovery
Finally, it is common for the person to present a series of symptoms derived from the effects of the shock, which arise during the recovery period.
- Irritability or mood swings.
- Hypersensitivity to light or noise.
- Problems in concentration.
- Mild headaches
Causes and risk factors
As mentioned above, concussion can be the result of a hit or fall in any context or performing any activity or an accident in any type of vehicle.
A considerable movement of the brain in any direction or direction can lead to a loss of consciousness for the person. Depending on the duration of this loss of consciousness, the severity of the shock will be greater or lesser.
However, a concussion does not always lead to fainting, there are people who experience an alteration in visual perception that makes them see everything black or white. In the same way, a person may suffer a mild concussion and not be aware of it, since they do not experience any symptoms or, if they do, it is so mild that they do not associate it.
Also, there are a number of risk factors that increase the likelihood of a person having a concussion. These factors are:
- Being a man.
- Children under 5 years of age.
- People between 15 and 24 years old.
- People over 75 years of age.
- Carrying out contact sports activities.
- Trades related to construction or agriculture.
- Driving or traveling in a vehicle at high speed.
- Certain medications that induce or cause drowsiness.
When making the diagnosis of a possible concussion, medical personnel should conduct an interview prior to diagnostic tests in which they obtain information about the type of injury and the symptoms that the patient experiences.
Next, a physical examination is necessary to check the state of the nervous system. This examination includes the evaluation of reflexes, variations in pupil size, coordination and alertness.
Finally, and depending on the severity of the patient, a series of diagnostic tests and examinations will be performed. These tests include:
- Computerized tomography (CT).
- Magnetic resonance imaging (IMR).
- Electroencephalogram (EEG) in cases where seizures persist.
The treatment of choice after suffering a concussion will depend on the severity and extent of the symptoms.
If the person has severe brain damage, swelling, or bleeding, surgery may be necessary. However, this is rarely the case.
Analgesics are usually the prescribed medication in most cases, since the person only tends to have a series of somewhat bothersome headaches. Common recommendations after suffering a concussion are:
- Observation of the affected person to detect possible complications.
- Do not do any type of sport or intense physical activity for the next 24 hours.
- Do not drive any type of motorized or non-motorized vehicle after 24 hours.
- Avoid alcoholic beverages.
Full recovery from a concussion may take a little time, lasting days, weeks, or months. Problems or symptoms that appear during recovery tend to be short-lived, however the person may need help or collaboration from others to perform certain daily activities.
However, the person may have a multiple concussion while the first concussion is developing.
After suffering a first concussion, and if the instructions of the health personnel are not followed or some type of sport or physical activity is carried out, the person is susceptible to suffering a second concussion.
This multiple concussion can lead to a condition known as Second Impact Syndrome (SSI). Unlike the common concussion, the second impact syndrome increases the chances of suffering a significant inflation in the brain, which does carry a risk of death.