Biology for Kids
Concussion (Head Injury)
What is a concussion?
A concussion is a traumatic injury to the brain usually caused by a blow to the head, but can sometimes happen when a person is violently shaken. Concussions can change the way the brain works. Most of the time these changes are temporary, but sometimes the damage can be permanent.
- Loss of consciousness
- Amnesia or loss of memory
- Loss of balance and coordination
- Confusion and/or dizziness
- Ringing in the ears
- Nausea and/or throwing up
- Feeling tired
Can a concussion be dangerous?
Although most people recover fine from a concussion, any concussion should be taken seriously as they can be very dangerous. Untreated concussions can result in permanent brain damage and can even cause death (although this is very rare). People with concussions should see a doctor. If serious symptoms such as vomiting, severe headache, lethargy (severe sleepiness), trouble focusing, seizures, etc occur, then the person should be taken immediately to a doctor or the emergency room.
Getting multiple concussions can be even more dangerous. Concussions can have a cumulative effect. Meaning that the symptoms can add up, getting worse and worse the more concussions a person has. When a person has a concussion, they should not engage in sports (such as football) or other activities where they might get hit in the head until a doctor has told them it is okay.
Types of Concussions
Concussions are graded from 1 to 3 based on their severity. Here are the descriptions of each grade according to the American Academy of Neurology.
- Grade 1 (mild) - A grade 1 concussion is when there is no loss of consciousness and symptoms last for less than 15 minutes.
- Grade 2 (moderate) - A grade 2 concussion is when there is no loss of consciousness and symptoms last for more than 15 minutes.
- Grade 3 (severe) - A grade 3 concussion is when there is a loss of consciousness.
As we mentioned above, a person with a concussion should visit their doctor and get medical help. Some of the treatments that are usually advised for concussion patients may include:
- Rest - One of the most important treatments is rest: both physical rest and mental rest.
- Physical Rest - This means getting plenty of sleep and not doing heavy physical activity.
- Mental Rest - The patient should take a break from activities that require mental concentration. This includes taking tests, long homework sessions, using a computer, texting, watching TV, and playing video games.
- Break from sports - Take a break from sports, especially physical sports. Another concussion could cause severe complications. Avoid any activity where you might take another blow to the head.
- Medicine - Avoid taking any medicine that is not specifically approved by your doctor. Some medicines (such as aspirin) could make the condition worse.
You can lower your risk of getting a concussion by trying to protect your head from taking a hard blow. Some ways of doing this are listed below:
- Protective headgear - One of the most important ways to protect your head from concussion is to wear protective headgear while doing any sort of contact sport or high speed sport. This includes activities such as football, hockey, skateboarding, bicycling, and rollerblading.
- Wear your seatbelt - Concussions often happen during traffic accidents. Wearing your seatbelt can help to prevent injuries during a car crash.
- Diving - Don't dive into shallow water or bodies of water where you can't see the bottom.
- Sometimes a concussion is referred to as an MTBI which stands for mild traumatic brain injury.
- Around 10% of concussions that occur during sports involve a loss of consciousness.
- The most dangerous sport for concussions is football where around 75% of the athletes get concussions.
- If a person has had one concussion they are 1 to 2 times more likely to get a second one.
- The CDC estimates that around 1.7 million concussions occur each year.
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*** This page is not to be used as medical advice in any way. Please immediately consult your doctor if you have medical concerns.
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