A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury caused by a blow to the head (or to the body) that causes the brain to move quickly back and forth and subsequently disrupts its normal function.
This disturbance of brain function often does NOT result in loss of consciousness and will not be evident on CT scan or MRI. Instead, the neuronal dysfunction often manifests in poor memory skills and slow cognitive speed (thought processing, eye-hand coordination, and reaction times).
The CDC (www.cdc.gov/concussion) organizes the symptoms of concussion into four categories:
|Thinking / Memory||Physical||Emotional / Mood||Sleep|
|Difficulty thinking clearly||HeadacheFuzzy or blurry vision||Irritability||Sleeping more than usual|
|Feeling slowed down||Nausea or vomiting
|Sadness||Sleep less than usual|
|Difficulty concentrating||Sensitivity to noise or light
|More emotional||Trouble falling asleep|
|Difficulty remembering new information||Feeling tired, having no energy||Nervousness or anxiety|
Because children and teens often present with delayed symptoms (days to weeks after the injury) it is imperative to initiate cognitive rest until the patient is thoroughly evaluated in follow-up. In addition, children and teens with concussions often take longer to recover (weeks to months after the injury), requiring modifications of their academic activities as well as supervision of their readiness to return to physical activities.
Facts About Concussion
- 90% of the time there is no loss of consciousness
- CT scans and MRIs will show intracranial bleeding or a skull fracture, but will not show the neurological dysfunction of a concussion
- Children and teens may have delayed symptoms (even weeks) after injury
- Children and teens may take longer (even months) to recover