Concussion

  • Medical Author:
    Benjamin Wedro, MD, FACEP, FAAEM

    Dr. Ben Wedro practices emergency medicine at Gundersen Clinic, a regional trauma center in La Crosse, Wisconsin. His background includes undergraduate and medical studies at the University of Alberta, a Family Practice internship at Queen's University in Kingston, Ontario and residency training in Emergency Medicine at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center.

  • Medical Editor: Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD
    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD

    Melissa Conrad Stöppler, MD, is a U.S. board-certified Anatomic Pathologist with subspecialty training in the fields of Experimental and Molecular Pathology. Dr. Stöppler's educational background includes a BA with Highest Distinction from the University of Virginia and an MD from the University of North Carolina. She completed residency training in Anatomic Pathology at Georgetown University followed by subspecialty fellowship training in molecular diagnostics and experimental pathology.

View Concussions & Brain Injuries Slideshow
Brain with dementia

Concussions Symptoms

Any loss of consciousness is considered a strong warning sign of concussion. Other serious symptoms of concussion include:

  • Vomiting
  • Convulsions
  • Seizures or drowsiness

Quick GuideConcussions & Brain Injuries: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment

Concussions & Brain Injuries: Symptoms, Tests, Treatment

What is concussion?

Concussion describes a brain injury where, after an injury, there are functional changes that occur in how the brain works but no structural damage can be seen on standard imaging tests like CT scan.

Mild traumatic brain injury, or concussion, can be defined as a short-lived loss of brain function due to head trauma that resolves spontaneously. With concussion, function may be interrupted while there is no structural damage to the brain.

What causes concussion?

The brain floats in cerebrospinal fluid and is encased in the skull. These protections allow it to withstand many of the minor injuries that occur in day-to-day life. However, if there is sufficient force to cause the brain to bounce against the rigid bones of the skull, then there is potential for injury. It is the acceleration and deceleration of the brain against the inside of the skull that can cause the brain to be irritated and interrupt its function. The acceleration can come from a direct blow to the head or face, or from other body trauma that causes the head to shake. While temporary loss of consciousness due to injury means that a concussion has taken place, most concussions occur without the patient being knocked out. Studies of football players find that most of those affected were not aware that they had sustained a head injury.

Medically Reviewed by a Doctor on 11/6/2015

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