Concussion Signs and Symptoms
Most people mistake think the loss of consciousness is the main sign of concussion. Actually only 10% of concussions result in loss of consciousness.
Confusion is the most common symptom but there are lots of symptoms to watch out for.
Loss of Consciousness
- Retrograde-forget things that happened before the incident
- Anterograde-things you can’t remember after the concussion
Delayed verbal/motor response
- light sensitivity
- blurred or double vision
Inability to focus
Excessive drowsiness or inability to sleep
Symptoms don’t always occur immediately, and can show up hours or days later.
Never move an unconscious individual until a neck or spinal cord injury can be ruled out. Also, do the ABCs, check airway, breathing and cardiovascular pulse before deciding to if/when/how to move the concussed individual.
Concussion Risks & Consequences
Concussions bring a variety of short- and long-term potential consequences to an individual’s quality of life, including:
The most serious consequence is when a second traumatic event is sustained to the already concussed brain, before the first trauma has completely recovered. This is called
causing sudden swelling of the brain, exacerbating previous injury healing process and can be fatal.
50% mortality rate in second-impact concussions.
100% of those who survive have serious permanent neurological deficit such as paralysis, visual and language defects, loss of memory etc.
Seizures typically occur immediately upon losing consciousness or within the first week of the injury.
- Occur in about 5% of head injuries
- Usually within the first 7 days
- Occurs more often in skull fracture or cerebral contusion
- Occur more often in adults
Seizure Risk Factors:
- Post traumatic amnesia lasting longing than 12 hours
- Intracranial bleeding
- Persistent neurologic deficit
Post-Concussive Syndrome (PCS)
The most common consequence of a concussion is when the symptoms persist and cause complications with the quality of life, including:
- Physical fatigue
- Dizziness/vertigo, nausea
- Headaches: Sensitivity to light, sound
- Sleep disturbances (difficulty sleeping, staying awake or excessive daytime sleeping)
- Emotional Impairment (personality changes, irritability, anxiety, depression)
- Cognitive Impairment (aka “Brain fog” typically involving recent or short-term memory loss, poor attention and concentration)
People with a history of migraines are more vulnerable to concussion injury.
The Brain Doctor
Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE)
CTE is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in athletes (and others) with a history of repetitive brain trauma, including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub-concussive hits to the head.
Brain scans show brains with CTE have a build-up of Tau protein, and look like a brain afflicted by Alzheimer’s disease. CTE, the focus of the NFL lawsuits, may also be affected by lifestyle factors that can add stress to the damaged brain, including smoking, alcohol abuse, drug use, poor diet and lack of exercise.
- The younger the athlete, the more vulnerable the brain is to concussion, and require longer recovery periods. For example: High school age athletes take longer to recover than older athletes. The brain continues developing through the age of 25. Therefore, concussions sustained before age 25, result in greater damage and potential risk to cognitive impairment.
- A concussed athlete is more likely to sustain a repeat concussion with the greatest risk in the first seven days.
- Athletes who have sustained three or more concussions are more likely to have memory and thinking problems.
- Repeat concussions are slower to recover.
- More than three concussions is associated with long-term cognitive impairment and emotional struggles.
- Concussions can accelerate the onset of dementia and Alzheimer’s Disease.