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What happens to your brain in a concussion?

Concussions are a type of reversible, traumatic brain injury. It is usually caused by a blow to the head or by striking the head against a stationary object.

Direct impact is not the only manner of injury: rapid acceleration of the head without impact can also result in concussion, as seen in a whiplash-type trauma. While the blow or trauma causes immediate pain on the outside, what happens WITHIN is where the real damage can occur. Watch this short video to see what happens to your sensitive brain tissue in a concussion.

Thankfully, your brain does not absorb the full brunt of the impact, as there’s a protective liquid barrier between your brain and skull. As a result, the liquid sloshes back and forth, carrying your brain with it. This can bruise the brain as it impacts the skull – this is what it looks like visually.

Sometimes, the impact is sufficient to cause a brain bleed or a skull fracture. This is why your child is sent for a CT scan or X-ray, to rule this out. The thing is, CONCUSSIONS ARE INVISIBLE. A concussion is a metabolic injury, where there is an ATP (or energy) deficit, in basic terms there isn’t sufficient energy to keep the brain working at full speed. You may experience this metabolic crisis as one, or more, of the following: headache, dizziness, nausea, fatigue, blurry vision, sensitivity to light or sound and even unconsciousness.

It’s important to note that in 90% of concussions, there is NO LOSS OF CONSCIOUSNESS, so the statistics say that almost 50% of concussions go undetected. This is why it is imperative that you remove an athlete or child from play who has sustained a knock to their head. A concussion-trained medical professional can perform a simple sideline test called a SCAT to determine if there has been a concussion.

Once the athlete or child has been assessed and there is no obvious threat, they can return to play. If there is no medical professional present, we strongly recommend: IF IN DOUBT, SIT THEM OUT! And here’s why: the damage caused by your first concussion actually raises your risk of a second one within the following year. This is why healthcare professionals are strict about returning to play too soon. Eighty percent of concussions resolve within the first 2-3 weeks. However, if you sustain a consecutive blow to your head before your first concussion has resolved, it can be deadly. It’s called Second impact syndrome (SIS) and is fatal.

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