What is a Concussion?
A concussion is a type of disturbance in brain function that occurs after either a blow to the head or any type of violent shaking of the head. The violent shaking of the head is often due to either a linear force, front to back shaking or rotational force, side to side shaking.
The disturbance that results from the concussion is neurometabolic in nature rather than structural in nature. What this means is that while the structural elements of the brain remain relatively intact, except in the event of a cerebral bleed or skull fracture, the metabolic aspects of brain function become disabled in some fashion. Metabolic functions mediate physical functions, emotional functions, sleep functions, and cognitive functions among other things.
Concussion may or may not result in loss of consciousness which is why it is important to perform an evaluation following any type of injury to the head and/or neck. Recovery from a concussion varies tremendously and depending on several factors such as age and severity of impact may last anywhere from minutes to days, to weeks, and months.
What are the Symptoms of a Concussion?
Some signs and symptoms that are frequently associated with a concussion include:
- Headache or a sensation of pressure in the head
- Nausea with or without vomiting
- Confusion or disorientation
- Retrograde amnesia
- Posttraumatic amnesia
- Feeling mentally slowed down
- Feeling mentally “foggy”
- Problems with balance and/or coordination
- Sensitivity to lights or noise
- Visual disturbances such as blurriness
Concussion Management Program
Once it is confirmed that a concussion has occurred, the affected individual will require different levels of care and monitoring to expedite appropriate and successful recovery. ImPACT provides a framework for the treatment and recovery process through the provision of guidelines for return to daily activities, physical activity, academics and return to play. The recovery process will depend upon several factors such as the severity of the concussion and the symptoms that the individual is experiencing.
Treatment will depend on the integrated work of a team of professionals which may include doctors, nurses, various clinicians, coaches, teachers, school administrators, and families. This team of individuals will make decisions about therapy programs, daily schedule modifications, academic modifications, and return to physical activity and return to play decisions. These decisions are based on clinical observations, test scores, including the ImPACT post-injury scores, and thorough evaluations.