What is a concussion?
A concussion or cerebral contusion (commotio cerebri) is a minor form of brain injury caused by a blow to the head, a fall or other violence inflicted on the skull (skull trauma). With most concussions, there is no injury or neurological change in the brain.
What causes a concussion?
A concussion is usually caused by a blow to the head or an accident. It can occur in both adults and children. Children, for example, can get a concussion while playing or exercising. Boys are generally more likely to have a concussion than girls.
Symptoms related to a concussion
The symptoms depend on the severity of the concussion.
In the event of a mild concussion, the blow might knock you out for a bit but for no more than fifteen minutes, often followed by memory problems. This is also referred to as ‘imprinting disorders’. You are dazed, don't know what happened, and you can hardly remember anything that is being said to you. People who have a concussion often ask over and over again what exactly happened. These imprinting disorders last no longer than an hour.
Afterwards, you cannot remember the blow or the accident. Even the time just before and just after the accident has been erased from your memory. The longer the loss of consciousness and the longer your memory loss endures, the more severe the concussion. Other possible symptoms, not commonly shared, are:
- Blurred vision
People recover differently from a minor concussion. Most make a full recovery, provided no complications arise. Residual symptoms are temporary and include:
- Tinnitus (ringing in the ears)
- Easily irritated
- Sensitive to light and sound
If you suffer from these residual symptoms, bed rest is not necessary, but it is advisable to take it easy. The complaints can last quite a long time, sometimes even several months. We recommend that you contact your doctor if your complaints persist.
A severe concussion is also called a cerebral contusion. A severe concussion has the same symptoms as a mild concussion, only they last longer. Besides feeling dazed, you can also be quite confused. Symptoms may also indicate disorders in the nervous system, such as:
- Speech disorders (aphasia)
- One-sided paralysis
- Loss of feeling
A cerebral contusion has a greater incidence of residual symptoms than a mild concussion. Although most symptoms disappear over time, you may continue to experience them for years. In severe cases, the residual symptoms are permanent. These symptoms include:
- Memory disorders
- Speech disorders
- Concentration disorders
- Vision and hearing impairments
Consequences of a concussion
A minor concussion does not usually cause long-term damage. Minor bruising or minor bleeding occurs in about 10% of all cases and less than 1% of cases can suffer severe bleeding from damaged blood vessels as a result of a skull fracture.
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