A concussion can be defined as a head injury that is caused by a bump, violent jolt, or blow to the head. This injury can be a result from various traumas including falls, car accidents, physical abuse and participating in high contact sports without the proper equipment (ie football). Concussions can be seen in all ages from infants to adults. A concussion occurs when the brain moves inside your skull or experiences rapid movement that causes it to collide with the inside of your skull.
Individuals who experience a concussion may experience a variety of symptoms. Symptoms may occur immediately after the injury, or may take some hours, or even days to manifest. Some symptoms that can be seen due to a concussion in individuals between the ages of young child -adulthood can include:
- Blurry vision
- Nausea or Vomiting
- Lightheadedness or Dizziness
- Sensitivity to light and noise
Infants and toddlers are also susceptible to concussions due to them growing and learning how to use their extremities and balance appropriately. It may be difficult to diagnose a concussion in infants and toddlers, especially if the trauma was unwitnessed. Some symptoms that individuals of this age group may experience include:
- Bumps noted to the head
- Increased fussiness
- Inability to nurse or feed
If a concussion is suspected, individuals should be seen by their healthcare provider for further evaluation and appropriate diagnosis. Concussions are often diagnosed by healthcare providers performing a detailed neurological exam to assess the function of the neurological system and ensure there are no deficits such as decreased strength, inability to move, decreased coordination or decreased cognitive function. Depending on the severity of the concussion, some providers may even schedule individuals for imaging using CT or MRI.
Treatments for concussions may vary depending on the severity of the injury, however, all patients should abide by basic concussion protocol to promote healing. Individuals who have experienced a concussion should rest, limit strenuous activity, and avoid triggers that worsen symptoms such as loud music, bright light, and prolonged periods of screen time.
For pain management, it is recommended that individuals avoid taking any NSAIDs (non-steroid anti-inflammatory drugs) such as Motrin, Naproxen or Advil due to these medications ability to thin the blood and possibly cause increased bleeding. If an individual is experiencing any pain it is safer take Tylenol as needed.
All individuals who have been diagnosed with a concussion should be cleared by a healthcare professional prior to returning to strenuous activity to avoid any further worsening complications.