Concussions and sub-concussive blows while not immediate, life-threatening injuries; their effects can be very serious and long lasting.
A concussion is a type of traumatic brain injury—or TBI—caused by a bump, blow, or jolt to the head or by a hit to the body that causes the head and brain to move rapidly back and forth. This sudden movement can cause the brain to bounce around or twist in the skull, creating chemical changes in the brain and sometimes stretching and damaging brain cells.
Subconcussive head impacts are bumps, blows, or jolts to the head. Unlike concussions, which may cause symptoms, subconcussive head impacts do not cause symptoms.
Every concussion and subconcussive blow injures the brain, creating a cumulative effect, and one concussion makes an athlete more likely to sustain a second. Continued concussions and subconcussive blows during the course of a person’s life can lead to long-term and progressive effects. Notably, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is plaguing many former NFL players. The buildup of the protein tau on the brain disrupts normal functions and leads to symptoms including mood swings, change in personality, memory loss, depression and dementia.
After receiving a concussion or a subconcussive head impact, the brain becomes confused and normal brain functions are disrupted. Symptoms can be temporary or even delayed in presentation for hours following the injury. Loss of consciousness can occur, but it is not common. This makes it easy for a concussion to go unnoticed by parents, athletes and doctors alike. Subconcussive head impacts do not present symptoms.
Recognition and Treatment
After receiving a questionable blow to the head, face, neck or body, it is essential to seek immediate medical attention. The sooner help is received, the sooner the healing process can begin. Depending on the severity of the head injury, an emergency room visit or hospital admission may be necessary.
In some instances, the medical professional evaluating you may take images of your brain or run neuropsychological testing to measure the learning ability of your memory to assess the severity of the injury.
Subconcussive head impacts do not show symptoms of injury but repeated subconcussive blows can lead to long-term and progressive effects.
Concussion symptoms may appear immediately or take several days, weeks or months to develop; with the problems ranging from mild to severe. Below is a chart created by the CDC that describes the various thinking/remembering, physical, emotional/mood and sleep symptoms commonly associated with concussions.
|Hard to think clearly||Headache
Fuzzy or blurry vision
|Irritability||Sleeping more than normal|
|Feeling slowed down||Nausea or vomiting
|Sadness||Sleep less than normal|
|Hard to concentrate||Sensitivity to noise or light
|More emotional||Difficulty falling asleep|
|Hard to remember new information||Feeling tired, having no energy||Nervousness or anxiety|
If you’ve suffered from any of these symptoms after receiving a hit to the body or head, contact your physician immediately.
Continued concussions during the course of a person’s life can lead to long-term and progressive effects. Notably, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is plaguing many former NFL players. The buildup of the protein tau on the brain disrupts normal functions and leads to symptoms including mood swings, change in personality, memory loss, depression and dementia.