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How to recognize signs of a concussion

In recent years, concussions have been getting a lot of attention — especially surrounding sports and the safety of its players.  If you have a child or children that participates in a sport, or even if you do not, it’s important to know the signs of a concussion and how to appropriately treat it.

What is a concussion?

A concussion is the most common, and often least serious, type of traumatic brain injury.  The most common cause of a concussion is a direct blow to the head, often related to high-impact and contact sports such as football.  The brain is made of soft tissue and is surrounded by spinal fluid within the skull. When a blow is sustained to the head, it can literally cause the brain to move around within the protective shell of the skull. This type of traumatic brain injury affects brain function, often causing damage to the blood vessel and nerves.

Signs and symptoms of a concussion

Signs and symptoms of a concussion can be subtle, but the most common are:

  • Headache
  • Memory loss
  • Temporary loss of consciousness
  • Confusion
  • Dizziness
  • Forgetting the traumatic event
  • Nausea
  • Vomiting
  • Fatigue

Signs/symptoms may not appear for days or even weeks, and they can last for hours, days or weeks after the injury.

What to do if you believe you or a loved one has suffered a concussion

Seek medical attention immediately. The seriousness of the concussion will dictate the treatment.  There are three grades: mild, moderate and severe.

  1. Mild (grade 1): Symptoms last less than 15 minutes and there is no loss of consciousness
  2. Moderate (grade 2): Symptoms last longer than 15 minutes and no loss of consciousness
  3. Severe (grade 3): Loss of consciousness
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