A concussion is a brain injury caused by a blow to the head or body that changes the way the brain functions. Concussions can vary in severity, with some patients experiencing minor symptoms and others developing chronic disabilities.
A concussion occurs when a patient’s brain moves rapidly in the skull. This can happen after a hit to the head or a hit to the body that causes head movement. The injury damages cells in the brain and in rare cases can cause bleeding inside the brain.
Some of the symptoms of a concussion may include:
When a patient comes in with a possible concussion, the SportsSafe providers will perform a complete neurologic exam. Additionally, they will gather a detailed history and order any necessary tests to determine whether the patient has a concussive injury.
In most cases, this appointment takes 60 minutes to complete.
Rest is often the best treatment for a concussion. While the brain heals, the child won’t be able to play sports or participate in any other activity that poses a risk of another injury. Depending on the severity of the condition, children may even need to stay home from school or have shortened school days temporarily. As the concussion heals, children can increase their activity level.
Most children will recover from a concussion completely within 2-4 weeks. However, some children may recover more quickly, while others may need more time to return to normal. SportsSafe will release a child to return to sports and other restricted activities after the child has a normal neurologic exam, a normal neurocognitive exam, and has been free of concussion symptoms for at least 48 hours. Surprisingly, younger children take longer to recover from a concussion than older adolescents and adults.
Most children with a concussion will recover. However, some patients continue to experience symptoms for more than 4 weeks. This is known as persistent post-concussion symptoms. This may last a prolonged amount of time and often requires multidisciplinary care from different specialists.
Both a head injury and concussion are typically caused by a hard hit to the head. Both should cause soreness on the head at the site of the hit and may cause a large, localized bump or bruise as well. A head injury alone causes localized pain and localized injury to the skin and should cause no other symptoms, whereas a concussion should present with additional symptoms. With a concussion, the patient’s brain moves rapidly in the skull causing symptoms of brain cell injury (see symptoms below). Typically, this occurs after a hard hit to the head, or a hard hit to the body, causing whiplash.
So, what’s the key difference? If you have a child who sustains a hard head hit and only reports soreness at the site of the hit and denies all other symptoms listed below, this is likely a head injury and is not a concussion. However, if after a hit, symptoms are mentioned in addition to soreness at the site of the hit, it’s worth getting evaluated for concussion.
First Steps of Action: