What is a Concussion?

What is a Concussion?

                Concussions have become a hot button topic not only on the playing fields across the country but in the media as well.  While the extra attention can certainly increase awareness, misinformation can lead to an incomplete picture and the inability to separate fact from fiction.  This post will be dedicated to describing and how the injury most commonly occurs.

First a definition; a concussion is most often referred to as a mild traumatic brain injury.  However, there is not currently a consensus definition for this injury.  An athlete with a concussion who is subjected to an MRI or CT scan does not usually present with “brain damage,” or any visible signs of bruising or bleeding.  Our inability to accurately see the “damage” can sometimes lead to an incorrect and incomplete diagnosis.  This does not change the fact that even though an injury is not visible a concussion can lead to impairment in one or more areas of the brain which can affect balance, coordination, speech, memory, and visual system.

A concussion can be caused in a number of different ways, but ultimately occurs when the brain rapidly moves back and forth, subsequently striking the inside of the skull.   The most common mechanism is a direct blow to the head from another player, a piece of equipment like a soccer ball or lacrosse stick, or contact between the player’s head and the ground.  A less common way is from an indirect blow.  This could be caused by a blow to the body which forces the head to violently snap back or rotate.  It is very important to note that a concussion DOES NOT always come from a direct blow to the head.

If an athlete is suspected of suffering a concussion during competition she should be removed from play immediately and not allowed to return until she has been evaluated by an appropriate medical professional.  We will be presenting the most common signs and symptoms to look for in an upcoming post.  Stay tuned…


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