Concussions are a form of traumatic injury to the head accompanied by temporary impairment of brain function. This kind of damage is often referred to as mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) or mild head injury (MHI) and is one of the most common types of external damage in the head and neck region.
In 2013, about 2.8 million traumatic brain injury-related visits to the emergency department took place in the United States. Modern studies reveal that the most common mechanisms of TBI are:
- Road traffic accidents
- A hit by or against a certain object
Roughly speaking, all concussions can be divided into two major groups: sports-related and not related to sports. Although the treatment in both cases is roughly universal, patients who had received a sport-related concussion often worry about how quickly they would be able to return to their training sessions, games and tournaments. A major part of the functional treatment of TBI is in explaining the importance of complete recovery before going back to physical activities: this is crucial not only for the patient's health but also for his or her optimal physical performance.
What Happens During A Concussion?
Regardless of the specific mechanism of the damage, a concussion occurs when there is an abrupt and extreme change in speed. For example, when a goalkeeper is hit by a ball in the head, he receives a huge local acceleration – and the skull, being a solid structure, is the first to respond accordingly by moving in the direction of the blow.
The brain, on the other hand, is a "floating" structure suspended in cerebrovascular liquid in the skull, so it takes longer to change its direction and speed of movement. Thus, when a sudden blow to the head is received, the brain is smashed against the cranium, damaging the local soft tissues.
Similarly, when a person is driving a vehicle such as a car or bike, a sudden stop (such as due to a road accident) would cause an abrupt decrease in speed which initially affects the skull: for the next moments, the brain would be still moving in the initial direction thus hitting the skull.
The resulting symptoms from such damage may include:
- Physical: headache (both local and diffuse), nausea, vomiting, increased sensitivity to light and sound, dizziness, seeing flashes of light or blinking stars, blurred vision, tinnitus (ringing in the ears).
- Emotional and behavioral: depression, anxiety, sleepiness or insomnia, fatigue, irritability.
- Cognitive: impaired memory and concentration, feeling "slowed down" or "in a fog."
But that's just half of the problem. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention , people who had suffered from a concussion have significantly increased risk of dying from other medical issues such as:
- Seizures – 50-fold increase in risk.
- Accidental drug poisoning – 11-fold increase in risk.
- Infections – 9-fold increase in risk.
- Pneumonia – 6-fold increase in risk.
This is why a holistic treatment of concussions is crucial for the long-term health of each and every patient, as …