Concussion is a hot-topic these days, especially in the sports world. But, much less attention has been paid to non-sports related concussions, when really, they are quite common. Concussions can affect people of all ages, and it’s important to stay educated on the facts. Here, Dr. Jason Weller answers some common questions about concussions.
What exactly is a concussion?
A concussion is defined as an interruption in normal brain activity, usually due to a trauma to the head. They are quite common. In fact, according to the CDC, an estimated ~3 million people per year suffer from a concussion. Contrary to popular belief, concussions don’t just happen to athletes! Anyone can become injured during a fall, accident, or any other daily activity. Although concussions are typically not life-threatening, it’s important to be aware of the signs, symptoms, and when to seek medical treatment.
What are the symptoms of a concussion?
Symptoms of a concussion can vary depending on the severity of the injury, but common symptoms of a concussion can include headaches, confusion, dizziness, nausea, and problems with things like memory, balance, and coordination. Sometimes symptoms begin immediately, and other times, they may not develop for days, weeks, or even months.
How is a concussion diagnosed?
Doctors specializing in the brain and central nervous system can diagnosis a concussion, as can emergency room doctors. If a concussion is suspected, your doctor will likely perform a physical exam to determine symptoms and test your motor skills, memory, and brain function, as well as ask about emotional changes. Sometimes, CT or MRI scan will also be performed if there is concern about a more severe brain injury.
How is a concussion treated?
Rest is one of the best treatments as it allows your brain to recover from a concussion. We typically recommend that patients rest for at least a few days, and sometimes weeks, depending on severity. This means limiting both physical and cognitive activity. It requires avoiding not only sports but also watching TV, using a computer, listening to music, and driving.
Can I go to work with a concussion?
Patients may also require time off of work, or work shorter days. For headaches, patients may be advised to take a pain reliever such as acetaminophen (Tylenol). Sometimes, prescription medications may be needed on a short-term basis.
What should I do if I think I have a concussion?
It’s important to get in touch with a medical provider as soon as possible following an injury.
To make an appointment to see Dr. Weller or another BMC neurologist, please call 617.638.8456