My son had the misfortune recently of getting a minor traumatic brain injury, also known as a concussion. His headaches and nausea were intense thirty-six hours after the incident. I took him to the pediatric emergency room to have him fully examined, lest the accident was worse than we thought.
It turned out that he did have a concussion. He remained home for a week, with no sports or physical activities and very little TV, video games or other kinds of stimulation.
But we do need to be on the lookout for any evidence of brain injury, something that could actually take months or even years to see.
So what is a concussion?
A concussion is a head injury caused by a fall or blow to the head, or even a sudden and strong jerking motion. While a severe traumatic brain injury (TBI) can cause an extended loss of conscious, permanent brain damage or even death, a concussion does not even need to cause a loss of consciousness at all, although it's certainly possible.
According to the CDC, falls are the leading cause of concussions, followed by accidents (being accidently hit by an object - say a baseball) and car accidents. Deliberate assaults account for 1 in every 10 traumatic brain injuries.
The CDC lists the most common risk factors of TBI-related deaths as:
- Men were nearly three times as likely to die as women.
- Rates were highest for persons 65 years and older.
- The leading cause of TBI-related death varied by age.
- Falls were the leading cause for persons 65 years or older.
- Motor vehicle crashes were the leading cause for children and young adults ages 5-24 years.
- Assaults were the leading cause for children ages 0-4.
If you or a loved one has suffered any kind of fall or accident that may have caused an injury, the most important thing to do is ensure the person rests and a call is placed to their doctor.
Because some concussions show no immediate symptoms, it's even more important to get checked out.
With or without a diagnosis of concussion, look for any kind of excessive sleepiness, vomiting, nausea, confusion, problems with vision or changes in personality.