A concussion is a traumatic brain injury that alters the way your brain functions. Effects are usually temporary but can include headaches and problems with concentration, memory, balance and coordination.
Although concussions usually are caused by a blow to the head, they can also occur when the head and upper body are violently shaken. These injuries can cause a loss of consciousness, but most concussions do not. Because of this, some people have concussions and don’t realize it.
Your brain has the consistency of pudding and it is only cushioned from everyday jolts and bumps by cerebro-spinal fluid inside your skull.
Concussions are common, particularly if you play a contact sport, such as football. In fact every concussion injures your brain to some extent. This injury needs time and rest to heal properly. Most concussive traumatic brain injuries are mild, and people usually recover fully. These injuries affect brain function, usually for a brief period, resulting in signs and symptoms of concussion.
Potential complications of concussion include:
Post-concussion syndrome where some people begin having post-concussion symptoms — such as headaches, dizziness and thinking difficulties — a few days after a concussion. Symptoms may continue for weeks to a few months after a concussion.
Post-traumatic headaches where some people experience headaches within a week to a few months after a brain injury.
Post-traumatic vertigo where some people experience a sense of spinning or dizziness for days, week or months after a brain injury.
Treatment-Resistant Mood Disorders. Concussion is a major cause of treatment resistance in the Psychiatric Clinic. It is an etiologic factor in mood, anxiety, psychotic, and co-morbid pain disorders.
Epilepsy. People who have had a concussion double their risk of developing epilepsy within the first five years after the injury.
Cumulative effects of multiple brain injuries. Good evidence indicates that people who have had multiple concussive brain injuries over the course of their lives may acquire lasting, and even progressive, impairment that limits their ability to function. Sometimes this amounts to dementia.
Increased vulnerability to develop lasting symptoms of concussion – each brain injury increases the risk for treatment resistant post-concussion syndrome.