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Jim Suk
Jim Suk
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Just what is a “concussion”?

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This topic has seen increasing media coverage over the past couple of years as physicians and researchers have broadened their understanding of just exactly what constitutes a “concussion” (a.k.a. “mild traumatic brain injury”) and how it occurs. Oftentimes a concussion is caused by a blow to the head. However, a concussion can also occur from a simple violent shaking of the head and body. In fact, the word itself comes from the Latin meaning to “shake violently.”

The CDC estimates that 1.7 million people sustain a TBI annually. Falls are the number one cause of concussions, accounting for just over 35% of TBI’s. The second leading cause is motor vehicle collisions, comprising 17.3% of all TBI’s. Sports and recreational activities are also leading causes of concussions in adolescents and young adults.

Contrary to popular myth, loss of consciousness is not required for a concussion diagnosis. In fact, according to a 2010 Pediatrics review article, fewer than 10% of sports-related concussions involved the loss of consciousness. However, from a legal standpoint, proving a concussion without a loss of consciousness or amnesia can be difficult because concussions, especially mild concussions, often don’t exhibit objective signs. They don’t show up on diagnostic scans, for instance. In fact, some physicians say that a concussion is entirely physiologic, like getting a surge in your computer, scrambling it and having to re-set it.

Nonetheless, there are some generally accepted symptoms of a concussion. According to the Mayo Clinic, symptoms may include:

  • Headache or a feeling of pressure in the head
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion or feeling as if in a fog
  • Amnesia surrounding the traumatic event
  • Dizziness or "seeing stars"
  • Ringing in the ears
  • Nausea or vomiting
  • Slurred speech
  • Fatigue

The bottom line is that if you experience any of these symptoms after any sort of head trauma, you should seek medical attention.

Think About It.