Signs and Symptoms of a Concussion [Infographic]
Even the most careful or skilled athlete can occasionally suffer a head injury. One of the most common related injuries is known as a concussion. What is a concussion, and what are the signs and symptoms you need to be on the lookout for after a head injury?
What Is a Concussion?
A concussion is defined as a mild traumatic brain injury. These injuries can occur after any impact or whiplash type injury where the head, and thus the brain, snap swiftly back and forth. It’s estimated that there are roughly 300,000 concussions treated in young athletes between the ages of 15 and 24 every year. The only thing that causes more concussions in this age demographic is car accidents.
Signs and Symptoms of Concussions
After a traumatic head injury, what are the signs of a concussion you can observe? While these symptoms will vary from case to case, in general you can expect to see:
- Balance issues, loss of coordination and problems walking
- Eye problems, specifically uneven pupil sizes and abnormal eye movement
- Confusion, slurred speech and irritability
- Loss of consciousness
- Coma — the inability to wake up.
If you are the one who’s experienced the traumatic head injury, you may observe these signs in addition to these symptoms of a concussion:
- Drowsiness, dizziness and confusion
- Nausea, vomiting and headache
- Slowed reaction times and memory problems
- Light and sound sensitivity.
When to Seek Medical Attention
When should you seek medical attention for a concussion?
Any traumatic head injury should be addressed by a medical professional. If you think the head injury is accompanied by a back or neck injury, don’t move — call an ambulance. If you lose consciousness from the head injury, make sure you are seen right away to make sure there are no additional concerns that need to be addressed.
There is no concussion test to determine whether or not you’ve experienced a concussion. Your doctor will ask about the injury and any symptoms you’ve experienced. He or she will likely check pupil size and light sensitivity, and may request an x-ray or CT scan to ensure there are no additional injuries.
Treatment for concussions will depend on the severity of the injury. Mild concussion symptoms may be alleviated by over the counter pain relievers and rest, while more severe symptoms may require additional medical intervention. Injuries that cause intracranial pressure or bleeding inside the skull will require surgery to alleviate the pressure and stop bleeding.
Minor concussions aren’t anything to worry about as long as you take the time to visit the doctor to ensure there are no additional complications. Make sure you wear safety equipment at all times to reduce your chances of getting a traumatic head injury that could result in a concussion. There’s no perfect way to avoid head injuries, especially during contact sports, but all precautions should be taken.