(Closed Head Injury; Head Trauma; Mild Traumatic Brain Injury)
by Elizabeth Smoots, MD
A concussion is an injury to your brain. The brain does not work right for a while after a concussion. You may have problems with things like memory, balance, concentration, judgement, and coordination.
Your brain will need time to heal after a concussion. Most will have a full recovery with the proper rest and monitoring.
A concussion is caused by a sudden, violent jolt to the brain. It may be caused by:
Concussions most often occur with events that involve:
Risk Factors TOP
Factors that may increase your chance of a concussion include:
A concussion can cause symptoms that may last for days, weeks, or even longer.
Symptoms may include:
Symptoms that may appear in a child with a concussion include:
The doctor will ask you about your symptoms and how the injury occurred. The doctor may also ask others who witnessed the accident to describe what happened and how you reacted. A physical exam will be done. It will often include brief tests for strength, sensation, balance, reflexes, and memory.
If your doctor suspects a different type of head injury, you may have pictures taken of structures inside your head with:
The goal of treatment is to allow the brain to heal. The brain can heal on its own with rest and avoiding activities that may be harmful while it heals.
Mental and Physical Rest
You brain will need full rest. This means avoiding physical activities and decreasing mentally demanding tasks. At first you will need to avoid all activities that need concentration like work or schoolwork. For children this also includes video games, watching television, computer activities, or texting.
Your doctor will ask you to gradually add in mental and physical activities once your initial symptoms are gone at rest. Your doctor will assess your symptoms, balance, cognition and tolerance to your current activity at each stage of recovery. The doctor will use this information to know if you will need further rest or if you are ready to progress to the next step.
Follow your doctor's directions on when you should return to work or school. Following the recommended schedule will help to speed your recovery.
Prevent Further Damage
The brain is more vulnerable to injuries while it is healing. Some steps to consider include:
If you are diagnosed as having a concussion, follow your doctor's instructions.
To prevent vehicle accidents and head injuries associated with car accidents:
To prevent concussions with recreational activities and sports:
To prevent accidents at home that can lead to concussions:
America Association of Neurological Surgeons
American Family Physicians
Center for Disease Control and Prevention Injury Prevention and Control
Nemours Kids Health
Brain Injury Association of Alberta
Ontario Brain Injury Association
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Last reviewed December 2013 by Michael Woods, MD
Last updated 01/15/2014