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Other Names:
Closed Head Injury, Head Trauma
Concussion

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Definition

A concussion is a considerable blow to the head which may or may not result in unconsciousness.

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Symptoms

There are immediate and sometimes lasting symptoms of a concussion. After-effects from a concussion may persist for days, weeks, or even months.

Immediate Symptoms of both mild concussions and severe concussions include:

  • Loss of consciousness
  • Amnesia or lapse of memory, for example the patient may not recall what happened to him/her and how the concussion was caused.

Although all concussions should receive early medical attention, it is extremely important that immediate emergency medical attention be sought if a patient experiences the symptoms of a severe concussion, including

  • Persistent unconsciousness lasting more than a few minutes (possible coma)
  • Drowsiness or altered state of mind
  • Confusion
  • Unevenly sized pupils
  • Abnormal gait or trouble walking
  • Muscle weakness on one or both sides of the body
  • Vomiting and persistent nausea

Some concussions cause lasting brain injuries, leading to symptoms that may persist long after the initial injury. Symptoms of such concussions include

  • Persistent low-grade headaches
  • Difficulties with organization and concentration
  • Regular bouts of short-term memory loss
  • Neck pain
  • Slowed thinking, reactions and slurred speech
  • Loss of motivation and energy
  • Sleep abnormalities (insomnia, extreme sleepiness or inability to wake up)
  • Blurred vision
  • Hypersensitivity to sound and/or light
  • Loss of or drastic increase in sex drive
  • Mood swings
  • Trouble maintaining balance

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Implication

Concussions can have severe implications for those who suffer one. The lasting effects of a major concussion can haunt an individual for months or even years. Concussions can drastically alter the personalities of people who have had a concussion and render the patient unable to perform either physically and/or mentally. Concussions can damage careers, athletic pursuits and marital relationships. Even a mild concussion can cause a wide range of temporary emotional problems such as stress, confusion, anxiety, depression, total mood disturbance or even more serious mental health issues. Normally these subside within three weeks, but not always. Some concussions may lead to intracerebral hemorrhage. This is an often fatal condition where the brain bleeds following a concussion. Even with successful treatment of an intracerebral hemorrhage, brain damage frequently results. Research has shown that one concussion puts the patient or the athlete at greater risk for future concussions. Concussions and head injuries increase the risk of early onset of Alzheimer's disease in patients

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Possible Causes

The cause of practically all concussions is a major blow to the head or a fall where the head strikes an object during descent. It is thought that the sudden acceleration and deceleration of the brain causes microscopic shears in nerve fibers. It must be remembered that any significant jarring of the head has the potential to cause a concussion.

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Treatment Options

Those who have suffered from a concussion are observed closely shortly after injury and are checked for possible bleeding in the brain. After a “baseline” evaluation of the damage, health care workers decide an appropriate time for the victim to return to strenuous activities such as sports. Even mild head injuries require a week or more for recovery. Those suffering lasting after-effects are commonly given pain-management medications, physiotherapy and may need to wait for years before symptoms subside, if at all.

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Home Care & Natural Remedies

Anyone who has suffered a concussion is advised to seek immediate medical attention, especially if there was any loss of consciousness or lapse of memory. Immediately after a concussion, one should look for signs of confusion, speech difficulties, blurred vision, lightheadedness, dizziness, seizures, abnormal behavior, ability of the patient to recall his or her own name, date of birth, place of residence, today’s date, the country where he resides in and an explanation of exactly how and where the concussion occurred. The patient must be checked for symptoms that affect one side of the body more than the other side, such as weakness, concentration, numbness or difficulty moving. Persistent vomiting and headaches or a stiff neck must be referred to a physician.

If there is any bleeding or if the cut is deep, apply firm pressure directly on the wound with a clean cloth or bandage and call emergency medical services. The shock of seeing someone with a head injury sometimes leads a person to forget to check for injuries to other parts of the body.

Many athletes, such as football players, use the dietary supplement creatine to increase muscle mass and performance. Studies in animals have shown that that creatine may also protect against damage due to brain injury in people who have suffered a concussion. Creatine works in the mitochondria by increasing energy production for the cells through cellular respiration (Mitochondria are any of the round or long cellular organelles of most eukaryotes that are found outside the nucleus and which produce energy, part of the brain cells that are responsible for generating the body's energy).

Creatine is also known to have positive uses in diseases involving mitochondrial dysfunction, Lou Gehrig's disease (also known as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or ALS) and multiple sclerosis. Creatine has the capacity to protect nerves and could potentially assist in treatment of diseases involving nerves and muscles. Creatine may slow down the progression of Alzheimer's disease, though this has not yet been proven with certainty. Some have warned that the potential negative consequences of creatine may include stomach upsets, cramps, dizziness, diarrhea, nausea, hypertension, liver problems and kidney problems but there are no studies that prove the seriousness of these side effects and a three gram dose of creatine per day is consumed by many people for maintenance of good health.

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Concussion